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.