Between IPL and England tour, Sri Lanka cricket crisis deepens

September 6th, 2008 - 4:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Sep 6 (IANS) Sri Lanka cricket’s crisis over the timing of the England tour which clashes with the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) next year deepened Saturday with the interim administration and several key players in the team refusing to budge an inch from their positions.Despite reports that Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) wanted to go ahead with the England tour with the best players, several key players in the team have stood their grounds on their commitments to play the IPL tournament, forcing an intervention from sports minister Gamini Lokuge.

A top SLC official said that the initiatives by the minister to hold “compromise talks” with the administrators and the players “is yet to provide a breakthrough”.

“Efforts are being made to find a solution to this over the past two months. The players have completed two series after the crisis (Asia Cup tournament and the tour by India). But a solution is yet to be reached,” the SLC official said Friday.

The sports minister has appointed SLC CEO Duleep Mendis to work out a solution.

When contacted, Mendis, said that he was hoping to meet the players next week to find a compromise, but stressed that there was no way that Sri Lanka could send a second-level team for the proposed England tour.

“We have to send the best team for the England tour. I will have to come out with suggestions on how best we could solve this problem,” Mendis told IANS Saturday.

Sri Lanka are due to play two Tests and three one-dayers in England next May. The time table is clashing with the 2009 IPL tournament.

The players argue that the IPL contracts had been signed long before the idea of a tour to England was mooted and want to go ahead with their initial commitments.

Skipper Mahela Jayawardane, Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Pervez Mahroof, Thilakaratne Dishan and Dilhara Fernando are some of the key players who have signed three-year contracts with the IPL. The 38-year-old left-handed Sanath Jayasuriya is the third highest paid player of the IPL.

Sri Lanka’s new 23-year old spin sensation, Ajantha Mendis, has also signed up with the Kolkata Knight Riders for three years.

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