Tour called off after disaster in Sri Lanka December 29, 2004

Sri Lanka head home from New Zealand

Sri Lanka's tour of New Zealand has been abandoned, and the team is returning home after the tsunami disaster which ravaged Sri Lanka on Boxing Day. Earlier the tour had been put on hold for a week, but after the players made it known that they wished to return home, and after the ICC made it clear that there would not be any financial penalties if the two boards were in agreement that the tour should be curtailed, the decision to cancel was taken earlier today.

A press release explained: "The Sri Lankan cricketers have always stood by the people of this country in good times and bad times. The cancellation of this tour will enable the Sri Lankan cricketers to join Sri Lanka Cricket to assist the victims affected by this grave disaster."

Martin Snedden, the former Test fast bowler who is now the chief executive of New Zealand Cricket, said: "As the magnitude of the recent events in Sri Lanka have unfolded, it has become more difficult for the Sri Lankan team to remain in New Zealand, and we can understand their decision as the players are expected to play a meaningful role back home with the rest of the people in Sri Lanka."

He added: "We will now give the Sri Lankan cricket team every assistance to return home as soon as possible."

The two boards will seek to reschedule the tour at some time in the future.

Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive, later confirmed that they had no problem with the two boards' decision to postpone the tour. "The impact of the tsunami on Sri Lanka has been devastating, and we fully understand the decision taken by the boards to postpone the series," he said. "In this situation where two of our members have agreed to postpone there is no issue of fines or compensation. The Sri Lankan players will now be able to return to their families and the series will be replayed at a date in the future to be confirmed."

And he concluded: "Our thoughts are with the many thousands of people whose lives have been devastated by the impact of this earthquake, and we will be working with our members to help the relief efforts."