25 - May 1, 2011

Couple of months before the official launch of Indian Premier League (IPL4), the multi billion dollar cricket extravaganza which offers unimaginable money to those who are picked to play, Pakistani players held the centre spot after the owners of various teams under instructions from the BCCI showed no interest in buying talented Pakistanis who could have made the competition more worthy of watching.

It was an official BCCI move and a short sighted one to keep the Pakistanis away on political grounds. Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistani players were interest to play in the IPL for different reasons.

Whereas players kept minting money as their prime object while the PCB felt appearance of Pakistanis may create an atmosphere for resuming cricket ties between two countries. There was no other way to enter Indian cricket than some Pakistanis playing and adding to the excitement with their explosive performances. It would only would have added to the glamour and swayed public opinion in India in favour of the resumption of cricket ties.

The other aspect which could not have been dreamt when the franchise owners were busy buying and rejecting players to raise strong combinations was that Sri Lankan Board decision to order its players to return home early to get ready for coming English tour midway through the league.

Eleven Sri Lankans were bought by the Franchise owners. Almost all the top cricketers who played in the world cup final at Mumbai were there on hefty contracts. Under the contract the BCCI which runs the IPL would play ten percent of fee of each players to the cash starved Sri Lankan Board.

However the unexpected happened when Sri Lankan Board backed up by the government ordered its players to return home and join the prepatory camp for coming England tour.

Among the eleven are such stars as Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lasith Malinga and newly-appointed national captain Tillakaratne Dilshan. They all are playing for different franchises in the IPL.

Except for Lasith Malinga, the pacer with unique sling arm bowling action, all others decided to obey the orders of the Lankan board which asked them to return home by May 5, just five days before Sri Lanka embark upon English tour.

Malinga citing nagging knee injury made himself unavailable to his board for England tour. However, Sri Lankan chief selector Duleep Mendis refused to accept the excuse. Malinga's argument failed to convince the selector who argued how could a player make himself unavailable due to an injury and yet keep on playing for Mumbai Indians in the T20 IPL which is far more demanding on fitness. Lankan board wanted Malinga to return and undergo rehabilitation programme at home.

Malinga could land in trouble if he defies return home order. Sri Lankan Board may be poor financially as compared to its immediate neighbour, but is one of the strictest boards which demand hundred percent loyalty from its players.

For Malinga playing in IPL would be important but for Sri Lankan Board discipline and the coming tour of England was more important.

Malinga is not in 16-member Sri Lanka's squad named for three-match Test series against England starting on May 26 in Cardiff. BCCI is not taking the Sri Lankan move lying down and may use its good offices with the Lankan counterparts to review the decision.

BCCI has called Lankan move as inappropriate .It wants Lankan player to play until May 21 which the Lankan Board may not agree to. If BCCI insists that Sri Lankan board should allow its players to remain in India till May 15, it might strain the relations between the two boards. The BCCI may use the contractual option to block salaries of the players and may go even to the extent to refuse to pay SLC its share of 10 per cent of the players' earnings. If such thing happens it would be disastrous for the cricket in the subcontinent and may even put in difficulty staging the IPL5 next year.

Any confrontation between the two boards would make the IPL extremely controversial and cricket boards of other countries may also review their position on sending players to the league. Sri Lankan move is giving birth to speculation that Sri Lankan move was some kind of retaliation against the BCCI. It could be that the two boards could not work in friendly atmosphere during the world cup or it could be the final where Sri Lanka surrendered meekly triggering speculation that the players allegedly under performed that helped India win the coveted cup second time.

President Rajpakse of Sri Lanka was at the grand Wankhede stadium watching his team slump to defeat. In the meantime positive statements are coming out from Islamabad and New Delhi after cricket diplomacy at Mohali warmed up the frosty relations between the two countries.

Indian Prime minister Manmohan Singh has placed normalization of relations with Pakistan at the top of his agenda. He even went on to state that it would be an achievement of his government if he could bring the two countries closure.

It would take some time for the two countries to resume bilateral cricket relations but in the meantime the two neighbors could organize competitions in smaller games which could release the tension built up for over two years after Mumbai attack.

Pakistan and Indian hockey federations are also exchanging views on holding international matches on their soil. Not only Sri Lanka but even the West Indies was affected by the fallout of the IPL.

Former West Indies captain Chris Gayle also decided to miss homes test series against Pakistan for the lucrative IPL. Playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore decided to join IPL after he was ignored for T20 and ODI series the Pakistanis.

He has argued that an uncertain future forced him to accept the Indian Premier League franchise's offer. He alleged that he had to pay all expenses himself for the medical treatment in England after the world cup. He alleged that his board had disrespected him and he had been playing under pressure. He alleged that the board dropped him without assessing his fitness at the training camp.

West Indies is scheduled to play five ODIs and two Tests against Pakistan apart from one Twenty20 international.