London:The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is determined to save Sri Lanka's tour to England in 2009 and have suggested postponing the first Test by a week even though it could cost them around $994,600.
Moving back the Lord's Test, due to start May 7, for seven days would allow Sri Lankan players who are contracted to play in the second season of Indian Premier League (IPL), to arrive a few days before the two-Test series begins.
The players would still miss the final fortnight of the IPL, which runs from April 10 to May 25, however, which is something they are reluctant to do.
Their IPL salaries dwarf the money they make playing for Sri Lanka. Kumar Sangakkara earned $700,000, excluding bonuses and expenses, from the inaugural IPL, while Muttiah Muralitharan made $600,000 and Mahela Jayawardene received $475,000.
Other Sri Lankan Test players involved included Lasith Malinga ($350,000), Tillekeratne Dilshan ($250,000), Farveez Maharoof $225,000), Chaminda Vaas ($200,000), Nuwan Zoysa ($110,000), Dilhara Fernando ($150,000) and Chamara Silva ($100,000). Ajantha Mendis and Chamara Kapugedera can also expect to feature next year.
According to the Daily Telegraph, excluding Sanath Jayasuriya, who has retired from Tests, the total IPL wage bill to Sri Lankans was about $3.1 million, so the ECB could have to pay at least a third of that.
The Sri Lankans had been promised by their board that they would be allowed to play in the IPL in 2009 and 2010, although they knew they would not be able to play in 2011 as they will be touring England.
The members of Sri Lanka's cricket committee are also concerned that the decision to miss a section of the IPL could damage relations with India at a time when they desire their assistance. Sri Lanka want to be included in the 2009 Champions League, and they also want India to agree to replay the cancelled 2006 tri-series, involving South Africa, next year.
England's players will also be reluctant to cut short their inaugural IPL stints to face a potentially weakened Sri Lanka side for a short Test and one-day series that are clearly the hors d'oeuvre before the World Twenty20 and the eagerly-anticipated Ashes.
Delaying the Lord's Test, however, would allow the players a longer IPL spell than they had anticipated.