Major cricket crisis looms large


by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka’s tour of England next year will clash with the IPL. Since he retired from Tests, Malinga has been least affected by international schedules clashing with the cash rich IPL, but now that the ODIs will precede the Tests in England, he will have to make a choice. (Files)

The national cricketers and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) could be in for a major showdown after it emerged that the national cricket team’s tour of the United Kingdom next year would clash with the next edition of the Indian Premier League.

Sri Lanka are due to fly to the UK on the 10th of May this year, but the IPL is expected to go on till end May. This year’s IPL ended on May 26th, while in 2012, the IPL ended on May 27th. Next year’s IPL itinerary is yet to be announced.

Sri Lanka’s first warm-up game starts in England on the 13th of May at Chelmsford, while the first T-20 International starts on the 20th of May at The Oval.

This time around, the ODIs will take place during the first half of the summer, followed by the Tests, although it was vice-versa on previous instances.

The itinerary for the England series means that the players have no option but to leave the IPL early. Had the ODIs followed the Test matches, it would have been an ideal situation for someone like Lasith Malinga, who only plays ODI cricket. However, now that the formats have been switched, the strike bowler will face a predicament.

In 2011, Malinga hastily retired from Test cricket, but has emerged as the most successful bowler in the IPL.

Not only Malinga, but over the years, Sri Lankan players have been reluctant to leave the IPL early to honour their international commitments. Since the IPL started in 2008, Sri Lanka’s tours of England have been badly affected and the trend is expected to continue.

In 2009, Sri Lanka’s cricketers, led by Mahela Jayawardene rebelled, when SLC accepted an invitation from the English and Wales Cricket Board to fill a gap created by Zimbabwe to play a Test series. Not only was the England series scrapped, but World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga was ousted from the post of board chairman, as a number of senior players and a notorious player agent rebelled against him.

The players, however, in obtaining a no Objection Certificate from SLC had insisted that they will come out of the IPL in the event they had obligations towards the national team.

West Indies accepted the same offer that Mahela and co. kicked out and although they had several stars representing playing in the IPL, they played the series in England, in 2009.

For the 2011 tour of England, Sri Lanka’s cricketers arrived there late and went onto miss a warm-up game as well.

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