London:The Sri Lankan sports minister has allowed players to play in the second season of the million-dollar Indian Premier League (IPL) even if it meant sending a weakened team to the summer tour to England.
The Sri Lankan board met with their government earlier this week and were told by sports minister Gamini Lokuge that they must not undermine their relationship with the powerful Indian cricket authorities even if they have to send a second grade team to England next year, media here reported.
Several leading Sri Lankan players have IPL deals in place. The second IPL season clashes directly with the England tour and ticket details for the two Tests, at the Riverside and Lord's, are yet to be released.
"I want the contracted players to honour their commitments with the IPL," Lokuge was quoted as saying in The Telegraph. "I don't want the tour to England be called off. But the team on English soil can have non-contracted IPL players."
Officials at Durham have been told to await England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) clearance before issuing ticketing details for the second Test, which is due to begin on May 15. The second IPL season ends on May 29 and the Sri Lankan players reacted angrily as soon as the tour to England was announced.
The tour was agreed to by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) chairman Arjuna Ranatunga during the International Cricket Council (ICC) board meeting in June that saw an intense period of political horse play as England engineered Zimbabwe's removal from the World Twenty20 Championship.