SLC and senior players on collision course over Pakistan


Sri Lanka’s senior players are reluctant to tour Pakistan.

by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka Cricket and their contacted players are at daggers drawn over visiting Pakistan and several individuals could end up losing their jobs if the dispute wasn’t sorted out amicably. SLC agreed to make a three week long tour of Pakistan to play six international matches in Lahore and Karachi. The tour that will get underway on 27th September with an ODI in Karachi and will conclude on the 9th of October with a T-20 International in Lahore.

SLC had agreed on the tour without consulting players and sources said that several senior cricketers have sent word to the board expressing their unwillingness to tour Pakistan. Dimuth Karunaratne, who leads the ODI side is believed to have taken the side of his players and could pull out. Lasith Malinga, who leads the T-20 side, is unlikely to take part in the tour as well.

When contacted by Sunday Island, a Sri Lanka Cricket spokesperson said that he expected the players to make the tour. "The World XI has gone there, Pakistan Super League has taken place and even our own team went and played there in 2017. We have studied the security arrangements and we have no issues in going on the tour," he said.

SLC would be feeling compelled to tour Pakistan given the cordial relationship they have with PCB. Pakistan Under-19 was the first team to tour Sri Lanka after the Easter Sunday bombings.

Sri Lanka’s senior players point out that no international team in the last one decade has stayed in Pakistan for so long. "Last time we went to Pakistan it was for just one game and we stayed for less than 24 hours. But this time it is a different scenario altogether," a source privy to the discussions between players and SLC told Sunday Island.

SLC will meet with all contracted players on the 9th of September to resolve the issue.

SLC this time around will be on a tricky wicket as Chairman of Selectors Ashantha De Mel has taken a balanced view understanding players concerns.

De Mel’s predecessor Graeme Labrooy struck a responsive chord with SLC last time a decision had to be made on touring Pakistan. Upul Tharanga the white ball captain didn’t tour Pakistan in 2017 and cooked his goose as SLC removed him as captain.

De Mel, meanwhile, has given the choice for players to decide whether they would want to tour or not and has assured that their places wouldn’t be in jeopardy if they opted not to tour. The Chairman of Selectors, who is also the Manager of the national cricket team, has confirmed to the players that he himself will not tour Pakistan.

To their credit, PCB put up a splendid show for the one off T-20 in Lahore two years ago. The players travelled to Lahore straight from Dubai as the United Arab Emirates hosted all games of the 2017 tour. Players were taken to the Pearl Continental Hotel in Lahore from the airport in a special armoured vehicle and the five star hotel was guarded by elite forces.

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