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President's intervention
  • Thursday's decision by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) followed the country's president Mahinda Rajapakse issuing instructions that the board propose alternate dates for the tour or decline the ECB's invitation. This in turn came after Rajapakse received a copy of the letter sent by the team to SLC chief Arjuna Ranatunga seeking a clarification on the tour and noting that they had been previously promised by SLC that the "IPL window would be clear in 2009 and 2010".
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Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has decided to allow its cricketers to play in the IPL next year despite the fact that the league clashes with Sri Lanka's tour of England. The move could have far-reaching significance for the game, with England's players - who missed out on the IPL's first season - likely to push for the chance to play next year.

"We will be taking up the matter with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) shortly to find what alternatives we can arrive at without upsetting both parties," SLC chief executive Duleep Mendis said on Thursday evening after a meeting of the board. "The players were already committed to playing in the IPL for three years [2008-10] but have assured us they will give the 2011 tour of England top priority ahead of the IPL. Taking this into consideration we couldn't let them down."

It's understood the ECB has already signed a tour contract with SLC for three pre-Test warm-up games, two Tests, a one-day practice game against Somerset and three ODIs that will be held between April 21 and May 30. The tour details were announced by the ECB on Tuesday.

Mendis said the compromise with the ECB would be to change the dates for the two Tests and three one-day internationals or to send a combined Sri Lanka team without IPL players. He conceded, though, that the ECB has not agreed to replacing the two Tests with five ODIs. "These are issues we need to thrash out with the ECB," he said.

An ECB spokesman told Cricinfo, "We have not had any official confirmation from Sri Lanka Cricket but they have spoken of seeking a compromise so we shall listen to what they have to say."

The 13 Sri Lankans on three-year contracts with the IPL franchises include Mahela Jayawardene, their captain, Kumar Sangakkara, the vice-captain, and Muttiah Muralitharan. Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, has already announced that the second season of the lucrative Twenty20 tournament will be held from April 10-May 29, 2009.

The tour was firmed up during the recent ICC conference in Dubai, where Sri Lanka's interim committee chairman Arjuna Ranatunga agreed to the ECB's request to fill in the slot vacated by Zimbabwe for the 2009 season.