Next edition of the Indian Premier League might not feature any Sri Lankan with cricket board chief Arjuna Ranatunga writing to the players, asking them to skip IPL 2009 which coincides with their tour of England.
In a complete volte face to his earlier stance on IPL, Ranatunga made it clear that the board released the players for only the inaugural edition which concluded last month.
"I take it that the (Sri Lankan) players would be prepared to heed the call to perform for their country in preference to the IPL. At the most, the players concerned would miss a part of the IPL series on account of the tour of England," Ranatunga said in his letter to the top players.
Incidentally, the former captain had earlier remarked that the players could not be forced to tour England at the expense of IPL.
Singing a different tune, Ranatunga wrote "by permitting our national players to participate in the IPL, it is private individuals who earn a percentage of the players' earning while Sri Lanka cricket gets no financial benefits whatsoever."
On the players' unfavourable response to a letter by SLC Chief Executive Duleep Mendis late last year regarding the commitments of the national players, Ranatunga said they should agree to tour England for the two Tests and 3 ODI series in April/May 2009.
The letter by Mendis written on October 1, 2007 had "specifically stated that Sri Lanka Cricket had no objection to the cricketers participating in the inaugural IPL Twenty20 in 2008 subject to they (them) being available for any commitments with Sri lanka Cricket at any given time," Ranatunga said in the letter.
"Hence the players have been released to play for the IPL for a period of one year," he said in the letter dated July 21, 2008.
Besides captain Mahela Jayawardene, the other names in the letter included Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas, Tillakaratene Dilshan, Lasith Malinga, Farveez Maharoof, Chamara Silva, Dilhara Fernando, Ajantha Mendis and Chamara Kapugedera.
A copy of the letter was also sent to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge and chiefs of other Sri Lankan cricket bodies.
The former captain, said he was "taken aback" by the contents of letter by players in response to the letter by Mendis, though he assumed they would perform the duty for Sri Lanka.
Ranatunga said the tour of England would secure a payment of USD two million for the SLC which would help the governing body improve its financial position "and will go a long way in assisting the development of the game of cricket in this country."
Ranatunga said to accommodate a request from IPL, SLC agreed to cancel a proposed tour by India to Sri Lanka in 2009 at a loss of USD 14 million.
"I write to inform you that I feel the contemplated tour to England in 2009 will be in the best interests of Sri Lanka Cricket. I hope you will also be able to see it as such, as well as an opportunity to earn much-needed funds for Sri Lanka Cricket and not as a let down but a call to peform for your country," Ranatunga said in the letter.