Sri Lanka news June 28, 2011

Indian sports minister asked to resolve SLPL deadlock

The Sri Lanka sports minister has written to his Indian counterpart asking him to intervene in the dispute over releasing Indian players for the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL), according to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) chairman Somachandra de Silva. Officials from the two countries' cricket boards met in Hong Kong, on the sidelines of the ICC conference, on Tuesday to discuss the issue again but were unable to make any progress.

"We had a discussion with the BCCI asking them to release the players," de Silva told ESPNcricinfo. "Earlier they had sent a letter signed by Mr Srinivasan, the secretary of the BCCI, saying they are going to release the players for our tournament. So now that they have changed their minds and for that we are very sad and disappointed. Even our sports minister has written to their [India's] sports minister to try and intervene and solve this issue."

de Silva said the BCCI were adamant that they could not release the players because of the involvement of Somerset Entertainment Ventures (SEV), a private company which won the marketing rights for the SLPL, but that explanation was confusing because IMG, a private company, is involved in the IPL.

"What they are saying is there is another party involved. There is no logic. What about the IPL tournament? There is another party involved - IMG. What is IMG doing with IPL?"

de Silva said he was mystified by the BCCI's stand because the two boards had a good relationship, and SLC were only asking for second-string Indian players while Sri Lanka had sent their national team to England without some of their top players because of the IPL.

"Even our captain didn't go on tour with the team. The captain went after that. So I sincerely hope the Indian cricket board will think about it again and release these players. This is not a long tournament. It is only 16 days. Not like the IPL, which is 51 days. I can't see the reason." Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, R Ashwin and Praveen Kumar are among the dozen Indian players reportedly signed up by the SLPL.

de Silva added that the standoff has not affected the relationship between the two countries but he was disappointed by the situation. "As the chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket, I am sad about the whole situation. Because our relationship is so good and so I don't know why they have refused their second-string players.

"I sincerely hope that Shashank [Manohar] will go back and speak to their committee and reverse the decision."

The Sri Lankan sports minister had said last week that the BCCI had informed him that it didn't want Indian players in the tournament because the former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi was involved with it. Modi has denied having any links with the SLPL, something which SEV reiterated through a statement on Tuesday.

"Contrary to recent news/media reports, SEV would like to point out emphatically that Mr. Lalit Modi has no stake or involvement whatsoever in SEV, either directly or indirectly, and has nothing to do with the SLPL or any tournaments of SLC with which SEV is involved on any level," the statement read. "Mr. Lalit Modi is neither a partner nor a shareholder and is not associated with SEV, or its founders or shareholders, in any capacity, either now or in the past."

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo