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Saturday, April 23, 2011

I didn't permit players to prefer IPL over country : Former Sri Lanka Minister

The former Sports minister Gamini Lokuge on Saturday countered the allegation that his leniency had paved way for the Sri Lankan players to prefer IPL over national duties. 

Lokuge said he did not permit players to prefer IPL over national commitments. 

In 2009, when Lokuge was the minister, Sri Lanka cancelled their tour of England as the players preferred to play in the cash-rich Twenty20 league.

Lokuge's position was that the 2009 tour was not an item in the ICC's future tours programme. 

"There was no such problem then. This time the problem arose because the captain and vice captain resigned after the World Cup. So they had to pick a new team for the England tour. 

"The England tour was part of the future tours programme and hence the current administrators must take the responsibility," Lokuge told reporters here. 

His successor, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, in a complete U-turn today allowed the players to stay in India until May 18 and travel directly to England to join the squad. 

Aluthgamage had earlier ordered that players must return to Colombo by May 5 to prepare for the England tour. 

Aluthgamage's decision came under severe criticism from media, which demanded his resignation for his flip-flop on the matter. 

"Now that the minister has not been able to deliver what he promised why doesn't he seriously consider resignation," leading Lankan daily 'The Island' wrote. 

"We feel the sports minister has completely lost the point here," the newspaper stressed.

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