Several Sri Lanka players approached by the league September 1, 2007

Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors backs ICL

Cricinfo staff
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"Marvan Atapattu has remained tight-lipped [about joining ICL], claiming he is considering a "couple of options", but has requested leave from his central contract from Oct 1." © AFP

Ashantha de Mel, Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors, has backed the Indian Cricket League, urging Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), which has hitherto threatened players with bans if they participate in the ICL, to soften its stance.

De Mel, speaking to the Island newspaper, said: "I can't understand the decision to ban players from all activities. It may be affect India's television rights and so on, but then that's their problem."

De Mel, a government appointee who has a prickly relationship with SLC, argued that even contracted players should be allowed to sign-up: "We have to look at the issue of contracted players favourably and the board must decide whether or not to send them depending on their workload."

No Sri Lanka cricketer is yet to sign with the ICL, but several players have been approached, including Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu, Russel Arnold, Nuwan Zoysa and Upul Chandana. Avishka Gunawardene has also been linked with the league in the media.

Jayasuriya has publicly ruled out his participation this year, insisting he is still committed to playing for the national team. Atapattu, meanwhile, has remained tight-lipped, claiming he is considering a "couple of options", but has requested leave from his central contract from October 1.

Arnold has just returned to Sri Lanka after a stint with celebrity team Lashings. He is undecided about whether he will sign-up or not and told Cricinfo he would be considering his options over the coming days. He has already been approached to be a TEN Sports commentator and also part of BBC's Test Match Special team for the England tour in October and December.

The other players are believed to have indicated a willingness to join subject to the terms offered. The ICL is only expected to give them firm offers only once it has finalized the recruitment of its big foreign stars.

Behind the scenes, Lalith Modi, in-charge of the BCCI's proposed official Twenty20 League, which is still at a conceptual stage, has made informal contact with a senior player in the national team and asked him to communicate to players interested in the ICL that the official league will offer a better financial package.