Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sports Minister Backs Sri Lankan Stay-Away

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sports Minister Backs Sri Lankan Stay-Away

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID LLOYD

SRI LANKA sports minister Gamini Lokuge admitted today that his decision to allow the country's top cricketers play in the Indian Premier League rather than tour England may lead to next year's Test series being called off.

The proposed tour, which was hastily put together to replace the cancelled Zimbabwe visit, attracted immediate controversy when leading Sri Lanka players protested they would not be available having already signed contracts to play in the IPL, which begins in April.

Players reportedly threatened to retire from international cricket if Sri Lanka Cricket did not cancel the tour and refused to attend talks mediated by Lokuge.

However, the minister forced SLC's hand, insisting the players should be allowed to skip the Tests.

That has left the two-match series in the balance, as the England and Wales Cricket Board are not keen to face a side shorn of stars such as Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara (above) and Muttiah Muralitharan. …

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