LONDON: Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi said his organisation could not be held responsible if Sri Lanka cancelled their tour of England in April and May next year and the IPL schedule was prepared keeping in view the ICC’s future tours programme.
Sri Lanka, themselves a substitute side for Zimbabwe, could pull out of the scheduled two Tests and three one-day internationals, which precede the Ashes,
because stars such as Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitharan are contracted
to the IPL.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan board, who are in no position to offer their players anything like the money they might earn in the Twenty20 jamboree, are concluding a 40-million dollars deal with the IPL.
That would lead to the full participation of Sri Lankan players in the IPL and the Twenty20 Champions League for the next decade.
Modi, speaking at the Global Sport Summit in London, said: "The ICC's (International Cricket Council's) tours programme is fixed seven years in advance. Everybody commits to that and players commit to their countries on that basis.
"There are gaps in the scheduling. Based on those gaps players and countries make other programmes to fill them. The Indian Premier League took into account the ICC's fixed programme and signed players on three-year contracts.
"The Sri Lanka board gave their players a no-objection certificate for three years to play in the Indian Premier League.
"Unfortunately the Zimbabwe tour to England was cancelled. The ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) had an obligation to Sky television to bring another team in.
"It is always portrayed that the Indian Premier League is stopping the Test matches being played. There was never a scheduled Test in the first place.
"The Sri Lankan tour would breach the contract with the Indian Premier League."
England is unusual among major cricket nations in that good crowds regularly attend Test matches. Many believe the growth of Twenty20 tournament such as the IPL poses a threat to what traditionalists sill regard as the ultimate form of the game.
But Modi said there was room in the calendar for both brands of cricket.
"Test cricket is here to stay. It has its own hard core following and we will continue to see that go forward," said Modi.
The England and Wales Cricket Board had said centrally contracted players could not play IPL cricket in 2009. But Modi said it might be possible for the likes of England captain Kevin Pietersen to get his hands on an IPL contract.
"We would love to have the English players play for the IPL. We have the top 100 players in the world in the IPL and they are the only players missing.
"The ECB has approached the BCCI and the IPL with the objective of saying they are ready to provide non-objection certificates to the English players to play in the IPL.
"But there is a big catch to it.
"The ECB are set to launch the English Premier League and the quid pro quo is that if the ECB was to release their players, then the IPL must release a minimum of 20 players for the English Premier League.
"It has to go to a governing council and the BCCI board for approval. In the absence of that approval we will continue the way we are.
"I hope the English players can participate but I cannot guarantee that."