Colombo:Sri Lanka's sports minister has asked the country's cricket board to release players for the Indian Premier League (IPL), forcing selectors to pick a second-string side for the England tour.
Gamini Lokuge instructed Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to name the best possible squad from the remaining players for the tour from April 21-May 30 next year.
The IPL is scheduled from April 10-May 25.
"I have asked the cricket board to release the players for IPL and find other suitable players for the England tour," Lokuge told AFP on Thursday.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) arranged the tour of two Tests and three one-dayers after a visit by Zimbabwe was cancelled on the advice of the British government.
The hastily arranged tour was opposed by top Sri Lankan players, including captain Mahela Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara, who wanted to play in the IPL.
They argued that their IPL contracts were signed before the England tour was finalised and they stood to lose thousands of dollars if they did not take part in the Indian Twenty20 tournament.
"The England tour was a last-minute decision, taken after 13 cricketers had already committed to play in IPL next year. So I have asked the board to release the IPL-contracted players," Lokuge said.
Sri Lanka's limited-overs tour of Pakistan was cancelled in April-May this year because the dates clashed with the IPL's inaugural tournament.