ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 23, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 43

Will Lankan cricket hit iceberg!

By Marlon Fernandopulle

Nasim Ashraf (R) chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chats with his Sri Lankan counterpart Arjuna Ranatunga. AFP

Is the Lankan cricket vessel about to hit an iceberg? In all probabilities it looks as if it is bound to occur. The magnanimous offer by Sri Lankan cricket chief Arjuna Ranatunga to rescue the beleaguered Pakistan cricket authorities with a five match ODI tour has created a huge stir and may develop into an explosive situation if it isn’t carefully handled.

Ranatunga who was in Pakistan agreed to a suggestion by the Pakistan authorities that Sri Lanka should send its national team to that country from April 23 to May 5 to fill in the void created by the postponement of the Australian tour which was to begin later this month.

However the proposed tour faces some problems. Nine senior Lankan cricketers may not be on board as they already have signed with the Indian Cricket Carnival – the IPL. They will have to dishonour their commitment with Indian authorities who have promised to pay them huge amounts of money.

If the tour goes through the Lankan cricketers will miss 18 days of the IPL which is scheduled to begin on April 18.

At the same time the Pakistan authorities who have promised US $ 800,000 for the proposed tour have requested that Sri Lanka send its full side.

Meanwhile on learning about this proposed tour, BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah had contacted the Lankan authorities and expressed India’s displeasure on this latest development. He also has explained that if the present status-quo continues India’s future tours programme (FTP) to Sri Lanka in July-August this year may also be in jeopardy.

The Indian tour schedule is – July 23-27 – first Test in Galle, July 31 to August 4 second Test at the SSC, August 8 to August 12 3rd Test at the R. Premadasa Stadium, August 18 and 20 first and second OID in Dambulla. Aug 24, 26 and 29 -- D/N -- ODIs at the R. Premadasa Stadium.

Can the cash-strapped Sri Lanka cricket which at present is over 450 million rupees on overdraft be able to withstand an Indian tour move out? However, it is reported that the Indian Working Committee is due to meet on the 26th of this month to discuss the matter further.

A knowledgeable cricket source pointed out that the Sri Lankan cricketers are at present only on a single tour contract with the SLC and therefore not obliged to honour the proposed Pakistan leg of activities. The central contracts of the Lankan cricketers expired at the end of last month and the SLC came with a single tour contract for the Caribbean tour with the hope of backdating their central contracts upon their return to the country. The source also pointed out that it was not prudent for the Lankan authorities who once were looking to bag a loan from the BCCI to start a skirmish with the rich and huge cricketing neighbour.

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