Lankan cricketers set to boycott England tou

Published: Thursday, July 10, 2008, 13:10 [IST]
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Colombo: The underpaid Lankan cricketers want the hastily arranged Test tour of England next year to be cancelled because the dates clash with the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 league, a source close to the team told AFP on Thursday.

"The players met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and urged him to get the tour postponed or played after the IPL," the source said.

"The president was very sympathetic towards the players and agreed to look into their request."

The tour, arranged earlier this month after England suspended bilateral cricket relations with Zimbabwe, includes two Tests, three one-dayers and four warm-up games and runs from April 21 to May 30.

The IPL, which features at least 13 top Sri Lankans, is due to be played between April 10 and May 25.

A top player, who declined to be named, told AFP the cricketers handed the president a letter when they met him on Wednesday to celebrate their victory in the recent Asia Cup in Pakistan.

"We wrote a letter, signed by all of us, appealing to the president to either call off the tour or push back the dates," he said.

"The president was quite firm about his decision, we hope he can honour his word."

Rajapakse's spokesman said the president instructed Sri Lanka's sports minister Gamini Lokuge to raise this issue when Sri Lanka Cricket's interim committee meets later on Thursday.

"The president promised to look into the players' grievances and instructed the sports minister to ask the interim committee to draw up alternative proposals," spokesman Lucien Rajakarunanayake revealed.

The near-bankrupt Lankan board is not in a position to pay forcing players to encash on cash-rich IPL.


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