SLC releases seven players to play in BPL
Sri Lanka Cricket has agreed to release seven high-profile cricketers to play in the Bangladesh Premier League, an about-turn from their stance last week.
A desire to maintain a good relationship with the BCB, and the one-week postponement of Sri Lanka's domestic one-day tournament have led to the change of heart. SLC's desire to see foreign cricketers - including those from Bangladesh - participate in its own city-based T20 league, may have also influenced the decision.
SLC had been opposed to issuing no-objection certificates to its centrally contracted players largely because their absence would have diluted the quality of the forthcoming Premier Limited Over Tournament. That tournament was originally scheduled to begin on November 20, but it now appears likely to be put off until around November 27, thanks to prevailing bad weather in Colombo.
As the BPL runs from November 22 to December 15, the cricketers leaving to Bangladesh will miss several rounds of the Premier Limited Over Tournament in any case. However, SLC officials said the home clubs had agreed to release these seven centrally-contracted players, and some players themselves had made appeals to be allowed to play in the BPL. The players had argued that BPL experience would stand them in good stead come the Asia Cup in February next year, which will also be played in Bangladesh. All seven players released are likely to be in contention for Sri Lanka's Asia Cup squad, and indeed the World T20 to follow.
SLC has also said it would like to have overseas cricketers participating in the inaugural Elite Championship T20, which is set to begin towards the end of January. That tournament would appear more attractive to sponsors and broadcasters if two foreigners featured in each of the five teams. Given the current international schedule and the money that is likely to be on offer, SLC believes cricketers from Pakistan and Bangladesh are most likely to be drawn by the Elite Championship T20.
In addition to the seven centrally-contracted players, two other Sri Lankans had already been confirmed to participate in the BPL - Kumar Sangakkara, who had been awarded a central contract but is now retired from international cricket, and Dilshan Munaweera, who does not have a central contract.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando