ICC asked to review its rules December 28, 2004

Sri Lankan players want to go home

Cricinfo staff

Sanath Jayasuirya is one of many who will be in New Zealand, but whose thoughts will be with those back home © AFP
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The Sri Lankan board (SLC) will ask the International Cricket Council to reassess its ruling that the tour of New Zealand has to go ahead despite the recent disaster which hit Sri Lanka.

"I understand that the players are not too keen on playing," Mohan de Silva, the SLC president, told Reuters. "But the board is bound by the ICC's Future Tours Programme so we have to negotiate with them if the tour is to be cancelled. If individual players are affected, they can take a conscious decision to fly back home but the team will have to stay back as we are trying to negotiate with the ICC to reschedule the series."

A source close to the players told Cricinfo that there was deep unhappiness among the players at the inflexibility of the ICC. Under existing regulations, a tour can only be cancelled on security or safety grounds. The players had a team meeting this morning to discuss the matter and their feelings were made quite clear.

This was echoed by Muthiah Muralitharan, who was to join the touring party for the Test matches. "In my opinion, it is not the right time for cricket," Muralitharan was quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald. "Something like this has never happened to my country. I was seeing on the TV today some of the people who are alive in Galle, and there is a lot of organising to do, a lot of feeding people. A lot of our cricketers are from that area."

Murali, recovering from shoulder surgery, survived a narrow shave himself and missed the devastation by about 20 minutes. He spent the weekend in Galle handing out cricket bats to underprivileged children and minutes after he left the city, the tsunami struck.

Brendon Kuruppu, the Sri Lankan team manager, was quoted by agencies from Auckland where Sri Lanka lost the first one-day international to New Zealand that his team may consider pulling out of the rest of the tour due to the catastrophe.

"It's highly unlikely the ICC will bend the rules for one country," Silva admitted, "but we are trying, considering the size of the humanitarian disaster."

Marvan Attapatu and Sanath Jayasuriya were the two players immediately affected by the disaster. Atapattu's father had traveled to Kataragama when the tsunami struck and Jayasuriya's mother, who lives in Matara had been injured. de Silva confirmed yesterday that Atapattu's father was safe and that he had been able to get in touch with his family by cell phone and that arrangements were being made to get him out of Kataragama. According to him, Jayasuriya's mother too was out of danger.

The ICC expressed condolencies to all countries affected by the tsunami. Ehsan Mani, the ICC's president, said: "Over the coming days we will be speaking to the sporting authorities from Sri Lanka and India, two of our Full Member countries, to find out how we can help the relief efforts."

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