Sri Lanka Cricket has released a set of guidelines for players choosing to retire from international cricket, namely a requirement to provide SLC with three months' notice of their intention to retire, a six-month waiting period post-retirement in order to obtain an NOC to play in overseas franchise tournaments, and the need to play in at least 80% of domestic matches in a season if they are to be eligible for the Lanka Premier League.
ESPNcricinfo understands that among the reasons behind the updated guidelines are concerns that several players may potentially be considering their international futures, especially in the context of new mandatory fitness requirements and the fact that franchise cricket tends to be more lucrative.
There have been rumours circulating of other national players calling time on their international careers, with batter Avishka Fernando even taking to social media to deny unsubstantiated reports doing the rounds.
"I have no intentions of retiring from any format of cricket. Please don't follow or believe this gossip social media pages," Fernando tweeted.
As per the SLC media release, the new mandates are as follows: "1. National players who intend to retire from national cricket should provide three months' notice to Sri Lanka cricket of their intention to retire.
"2. Retired national players who wish to obtain 'No Objection Certificates' (NOCs) to play in overseas franchise leagues will only be issued to such players who have completed six months of their effective date of retirement.
"3. Retired national players will be considered eligible for local leagues such as the LPL, only if they have played 80% of matches in the domestic cricket competitions conducted in the season prior to the conducting of the league."
While the first and last points skirt the line in terms of SLC's range of authority for contracted players - there is already a clause within the present central contracts requiring players provide the board with adequate notice of retirement, while in the past player selection has been scrutinised due to inadequate time spent playing domestic cricket - there is currently no stipulation in player contracts that require retired players to obtain NOCs.
SLC CEO Ashley de Silva however told ESPNcricinfo that this has long been accepted protocol between boards, both to ensure the integrity of their leagues. "Most of the member countries don't encourage players [to play in their franchise league] without an NOC. We don't accept any player to play in our leagues - especially since it's been sanctioned by the ICC - without an NOC," de Silva said. "They need to first get approval from their respective boards. Even if it's a retired player.
"Because a retired play can get involved in [other] tournaments that are not sanctioned by the ICC. In the event that happens, member boards may [at their discretion] not allow those players to take part in their own leagues.
"If we find out a player has taken part in an unsanctioned tournament, we will take disciplinary action against them. For example, we won't let them be involved in the administration at Sri Lanka Cricket. So, before they go, they [the players] should know it's a tournament sanctioned by the ICC and that's why they need an NOC from the respective boards."
de Silva added that the new guidelines would be included in the next batch of central contracts due to be announced in February. The old contracts were up at the end of 2021 but were extended by a month till end-January.