Sri Lanka, West Indies scrap Tests from tour
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have scrapped two Tests from Sri Lanka's tour of the West Indies next May and instead plan to play an ODI tri-series involving India. The decision also means that players from both teams will remain available during the IPL, which runs from April 3 to May 26 next year. The teams were scheduled to play two Tests, three ODIs and two Twenty20s as per the Future Tours Programme. It is unclear if the Twenty20s will remain part of the tour.
SLC chief executive Ajit Jayasekara denied the motive for foregoing the Tests was to avoid a clash with the IPL, but failed to provide an alternate reason. He said the WICB had put forward the idea, and the SLC had agreed to the change in schedule after holding discussions. Jayasekara said scheduling an ODI series instead of following the FTP would end up being "more lucrative for the board".
WICB corporate communications manager Imran Khan said that all three boards had agreed in principle to the tri-series. Dates and details would be finalised following final sanction from the BCCI. Incidentally, national boards receive 10% of each player's salary from the IPL.
This will be the second time Sri Lanka have foregone a Test series which clashes with the IPL. In 2009, they declined to replace Zimbabwe in England, when Zimbabwe were unable to tour for political reasons. In 2011, several players, including Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, missed tour matches playing in the IPL ahead of a three-Test series in England, which Sri Lanka eventually lost 1-0.
West Indies spin bowler Sunil Narine also missed two Tests against England due to his IPL commitments, though he did play in the third Test. Chris Gayle did not feature in that series due to a standoff with the board, which has since been resolved.
The change in the tour programme is also a continuation of the SLC's recent trend of culling Tests from Sri Lanka's schedule. Two tests against India in July became five ODIs and a Twenty20 and the three Tests scheduled for England in March became a two-Test series as the IPL approached. With the schedule now adjusted, Sri Lanka will not play an away Test against a top-eight opposition between January and December.
The BCCI did not confirm India's involvement in any change of plans. "We have been told about this but the matter is being discussed. Nothing has been decided or finalised yet," a senior BCCI official said.
During its annual meeting in Malaysia, the ICC had decided not to create a window for the IPL, as they did not want to set a precedent of domestic tournaments taking priority over international cricket. "Once you provide a window for one particular member, you have to be conscious of the fact you may well have to do it for other members," then ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said in June. "Hence why we have not been supportive of a window specifically for any one of those domestic leagues."
Additional reporting by Nagraj Gollapudi
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka