Sri Lankan cricket September 19, 2008

Sri Lanka lifts domestic ban on ICL players


Marvan Atapattu and Russel Arnold's bans have been lifted © AFP

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has broken ranks with the official cricketing establishment by deciding to allow five cricketers and an umpire who last year signed up for the unauthorised ICL to play domestic cricket. The significant decision was taken by SLC's interim committee last week and has become public two days after the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) became the latest nationol body to ban its ICL cricketers from all forms of official cricket.

ICL officials have welcomed the move as "a step in the right direction".

The five cricketers who are now eligible to play for their respective clubs are Marvan Atapattu, the former Sri Lanka captain, Russel Arnold, Upul Chandana, Avishka Gunawardene and Saman Jayantha; the umpire is Ranmore Martinesz. Atapattu, Arnold and Chandana retired from international cricket to play in the ICL, and will now be seen in Sri Lanka's Premier League and the limited-overs tournament, which are scheduled to start next month.

Duleep Mendis, the chief executive of SLC, told Cricinfo the board's interim committee took this decision at a meeting following a request from the cricketers. "The interim committee has allowed these ICL players to play in domestic cricket after they sought permission to do so. This decision refers to a specific application from a specific group of players to take part in domestic cricket," Mendis said. He refused to comment on whether similar waivers would be granted in future to cricketers who take part in subsequent editions of ICL -- the league's second season starts on October 10.

"Players will be allowed to play for their respective clubs and share their expertise, but cannot represent the country," Shane Fernando, the Sri Lanka Cricket media manager, told AFP.

"This is a step in the right direction," Himanshu Mody, the business head of ICL, told Cricinfo. "We hope that this decision paves the way for Sri Lankan cricketers to play for the ICL and their country in the near future."

The Sri Lankan move was not unexpected, though, after SLC invited Arnold and Chandana to attend post-match prize distribution ceremonies during the Indian series in August. That was in stark contrast to the approach adopted by the BCCI and other national boards, which have banned ICL cricketers from all official platforms - the trade laws in UK, however, ensure that these players can play county cricket.

The Indian board, meanwhile, has expressed disappointment at the Sri Lankan move and said it will take up the matter with the ICC. "We are disappointed by this move from Sri Lanka," Niranjan Shah, the BCCI secretary, told Cricinfo. "We will now refer the matter to the ICC, which is already debating the issue of unauthorised cricket."

The ICC, which has formed a committee on unauthorised cricket, had clarified that any move to ban such players will "have to be taken by the respective boards of the concerned players".

SLC had banned these cricketers last year when they joined the ICL which was in direct conflict to the BCCI-run IPL where 13 cricketers from the national team participated. The BCB on Wednesday banned 13 of its ICL cricketers, including Habibul Bashar, the former captain, for ten years from domestic and international cricket.

(Additional reporting by Ajay S Shankar)

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dimuthu on September 22, 2008, 13:29 GMT

    Cannuck (isn't that a rude way of addressing Canadians?), I'm the one who was questioning the timing :) I do think that it is definitely the way it should be, the BCCI should have NO say in what happens in domestic cricket of other countries, let alone international cricket. Bt what feels a bit dirty is that how SLC did it AFTER BCCI helped them out. If they did it beforehand of course, the tour never would have happened. So it's very street smart of the SLC and a good compromise I suppose (that they still have the ban on int'l cricket). So i do agree with you. But i'm still sure the BCCI will see it as being ungrateful. And as someone else mentioned, no politician should be trusted :) trust Arjuna to get something done, but i wouldn't want him to hold on to my lunch money! (or my lunch?)

  • Soundra on September 22, 2008, 2:41 GMT

    BCCI is a bully because of its financial strength. Who cares? No one should bow down to their pressure. Even in the case of Andrew Symonds racial villification case the punishment meted out to Harbajan should never have been lifted. He is another guy keeping his feet six foot above the ground. I do not say what Andrew Symonds did was right but the point we should respect the decision of the Match Referee

  • sampath on September 21, 2008, 14:25 GMT

    If BCCI by virtue of its wealth could attempt arm twisting tactics with ICC and all other boards, it should be prepared to take its own medicine. I wish ICL is recognised soon by the ICC and also BCCI with prudence prevailing over.With a matured man in Sharad Pawar at the helm, I am confident the resistence to ICL will wane away lest BCCI sooner or later may be forced to accept the reality with a pinch of salt.After all those who govern the board should understand that they are in limelight only because of the performance of the players which only is paving the way for all the revenue and richness of the BCCI. Its time they shed their needless fear undeserving ego and above all the arrogance.

  • Vivek on September 21, 2008, 13:01 GMT

    Bravo Arjuna. What will BCCI do now? Interesting times ahead. Am sure Modi will come up with something.

  • Aumlan on September 21, 2008, 2:11 GMT

    Finally !!!! Finally, it took a certain Arjuna Ranatunga to show some spine... bravo, Arjuna, bravo others who supported him, and hope this leads to a scenario where the BCCI propensity to domineer & bull-doze, is fixed. Can the other boards also pls show similar spine?

  • Rajinda on September 20, 2008, 19:45 GMT

    I read through almost 45 plus comments out of 69 that commended SLC's brave decision, before I came across to just 2 negative comments in total. In that sense it's clear that the huge majority of Cricket fans are with the SLC & resent the BCCI dominating ICC & other country's boards set up. One had wondered if the timing was right by SLC to take this stance against BCCI, since they helped out a debt ridden SL cricket. Actually in reality all SLC has done is allow their players to play ONLY domestic Cricket, & not represent the COUNTRY. It is not going against ICC, but showing the world that no out side body can dictate what happens in their back yard. This is a very smart move by SL, specially since majority of their ICL players are already retired. Some may resent Arjuna for his arrogance & other antics, but at the end of the day regardless of what his motivation was, you got to admit that it's the right move. Basically, ICC should stick to International issues, not domestic ones!

  • Sree on September 20, 2008, 18:44 GMT

    This is good for cricket and I am glad that an administrator like Lalit Modi doesn't make decisions that hurt cricket. Moreoever, I maybe blinded but I would pick the intentions of the greatest sportsman India has ever produced - Kapil Dev. All this looks eerily similar to the AFL - NFL scenario back in the 60s in America - Superbowl was the outcome. Let's hope more boards get independent and not get swayed by an ugly BCCI.

  • Ravish on September 20, 2008, 15:24 GMT

    I completely agree with SaiBhaskar with what will happen if ICC lifts the ban on ICL. BCCI will reorganize itself and only focus on franchise cricket throughout the year in all formats. They might enter into an agreement with South Africa and Australia via a revenue sharing scheme for making their players available and don't play any other countries at all or just ask the franchises to release their worst players to play these international tournaments. Cricket will only be played in India throughout the year. It becomes like a NBA/NFL/MLB. People from other countries can't complain because they were okay with sending their players to ICL without a ban. Heck, they might do away with needing NOCs from boards. ICCs revenues will drop more than 50-60%. It looks like that is where this is heading. Ban was not sustainable. Letting players play also was not economically sustainable as BCCI would not like to sit idle and let private leagues eat into profits. So, I predict this will happen.

  • Ravish on September 20, 2008, 14:48 GMT

    i) Note that ICL is only investing in the most lucrative format, T20, and not in 3-4 day domestic tournaments like Ranji's where there is no revenue, but which is essential for developing players. ICL is jut poaching these players that BCCI built, meaning they don't have any costs incurred in actually grooming and devloping talent. j) BCCI will not want to loose ad revenues to ICL (if countries lift the ban and send their best players) and they will surely increase their franchises to 12 and play for 6 months in an year. They will send their B and C teams for international tournaments because they will make much more money with IPL for 6 months. k) They will almost surely not play SL and tell SL players that they can come and join IPL without any NOCs from the board. l) Remember, 80% of the ICC revenues are from India. If India is not showing any interest in international tournaments, ICC will get 20million dollars for a tournament instead of 100 million. cont'd..

  • Ravish on September 20, 2008, 14:42 GMT

    cont'd.. e) People are now saying that ICL players can only play in domestic tournaments, not international. How long will it hold?The moment international players see that they are earning less than domestic players who are playing in these leagues, they won't want to play international tournament anymore, especially in countries like SL, NZ, WI etc. f) At the moment, 80% of the revenues of ICC come from India. If channels own their leagues, demand for ICC will not be there and every other country save England and may be Australia will be destroyed. g) Curse BCCI what you may, they were restrained with IPL (only 6-7 weeks) at the moment because they are listening to other countries in ICC and did not want to eat up the calendar. h)Now if other countries follow SL and remove the ban on ICL, ICL will almost surely increase the length of the tournaments to a few months. cont'd..

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