The controversy over the Sri Lankan cricketers being asked to return home halfway through the ongoing IPL Season Four is unlikely to be resolved before next week.
“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has requested Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to allow the players to continue to play in the IPL,”SLC board secretary, Nishantha Ranatunga told Hindustan Times over phone on Thursday.
“But a decision can only be taken after a meeting of the board’s interim committee and selection committee,” he said.
Also, the all-important meeting between the committees and the Lankan sports ministry will probably only take place on Monday as the country is celebrating the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
Ranatunga himself is out of Colombo and will be back on Monday. Most of the selectors and committee members too are out of the Capital. Ranatunga said a decision as important as this could not be taken without all the decision-makers being present.
The Sri Lanka government’s official website, news.lk, said on Thursday, “The minister of sports, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, has stressed on putting the country before self and has given the players an ultimatum to return to the country before May 5.”
Almost all top Lankan cricketers, including former captains Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Muttiah Muralitharan, are playing in the Indian Premier League.
The selection committee chairman, Duleep Mendis, told HT that all Lankan cricketers “have either been written to or been informed individually to return before May 5”. The national team is expected to leave for England five days later.
But Mendis feels that five days would hardly be enough for the team to get together and prepare for the tough series. “As of now, that’s the best we can do. (It’s) not enough,” Mendis said.
He averred that the IPL T20 tournament would not provide the cricketers the practice needed for the longer versions of the game. “It’s totally different. From T20 to 50 overs (cricket) and then Test matches…. completely different,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jayawardene said, “I honestly don’t know what exactly was the understanding between the Indian board and their Sri Lankan counterparts. We were not exactly told as to how long we could be in India. But we knew that there was a tour according to the FTP to England, so we knew that we could stay in India as long as we can.”