Colombo: Sri Lankan cricketers currently playing in the Indian Premier League will return home early to prepare for the upcoming England tour, new skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan said today.
Dilshan is among 11 players who have been asked by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to return home by May 5, more than three weeks before the lucrative Twenty20 tournament ends.
“Personally, I am not unhappy to return early,” Dilshan told reporters.
“Playing for my country is more important than playing for IPL. I think everybody selected for England tour will be happy to come early.” The Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) had earlier written to SLC asking them to allow their cricketers to stay on till May 15.
“We did sign a no-objection agreement with the players to play in the IPL. But there was no date to return. I am sure the BCCI will understand country must come first before IPL,” SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said.
Sri Lanka will play three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 international during the England tour starting May 14. Ranatunga said training for the tour will start on May 5 and the team will leave for London on May 11.
He said former skippers Mahela Jayawardene (Kochi Tuskers) and Kumar Sangakkara (Deccan Chargers) will also have to return as they have been selected in the Test squad.
“The BCCI has asked us to reconsider our decision, but we have not changed our stand,” Ranatunga said. Dilshan, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore along with fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep, said he hoped the franchises would understand their early exit.
“We have a new interim coach (Stuart Law) and a new batting coach (Marvan Atapattu). I am also new as captain. We need to prepare together to build up for the big England tour,” he said.
Chief selector and former captain Duleep Mendis said the early recall was necessary as Sri Lanka had been playing one-dayers and Twenty20s for the past two months.
“They have to mentally prepare and switch to play the longer version of the game,” said Mendis.
“The first half of the English summer is not very easy and we want the boys to train together and focus on playing with red balls instead of the white ones that they have been playing with in the past two months,” Mendis said. Other Sri Lankan IPL players include Nuwan Kulasekara and Suraj Randiv (Chennai Super Kings); Dilhara Fernando and Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians).