Sri Lanka's tour of England WILL go ahead following contract saga

Sri Lanka’s tour of England WILL go ahead after Sri Lankan stars agree to play limited-overs series without contracts following players’ blanket refusal to sign new deals just days before they were due to fly to the UK

  • England’s limited-overs series versus Sri Lanka later this month will go ahead
  • It comes after the Sri Lankan players agreed to tour without contracts
  • Thirty-eight players resisted the new grading system for central contracts
  • However, progress in talks has led to the squad agreeing to fly out on Wednesday

England’s limited-overs series versus Sri Lanka later this month will go ahead after the Sri Lankan players agreed to tour without contracts.

The three Twenty20 and three one-day internationals had been thrown into jeopardy at the 11th hour following a blanket refusal by the players to sign contract offers last weekend.

Thirty-eight players put their names to correspondence resisting the new grading system for contracts proposed by Sri Lanka Cricket due partly to its lack of transparency.

The Sri Lanka players have refused to sign new contracts but tour of England will go ahead

However, progress in talks since has led to the squad agreeing to fly out from Colombo on Wednesday as scheduled, with the players’ lawyer Nishan Premathiratne telling ESPNcricinfo: ‘They will play this tour without signing any contract.’

Since their 2019-20 national contracts expired eight months ago, Sri Lanka’s players have operated under a succession of temporary deals but the stand-off had placed the tour – which begins with a period of quarantine ahead of the first ODI in Cardiff on June 23 – in doubt. 

Meanwhile, the ICC have stepped up their contingency plans for the Twenty20 World Cup by approaching Oman as a potential fourth venue hub.

Although official confirmation that the tournament will be moved from India to the UAE is not expected until later this month, the world governing body is preparing for the switch and has turned to Oman amid concerns that the pitches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah will deteriorate due to overuse.

Coach Mickey Arthur and the Sri Lanka squad are due to arrive in the UK on Wednesday

That is due to the Indian Premier League being concluded in the Emirates in the weeks leading up to the tournament’s October 18 start date.

Hosting the week-long preliminary stage — featuring Test nations Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Ireland plus associate countries such as Scotland — in Muscat would allow for some respite and provide time for groundsmen to prepare the best possible surfaces for the group games onwards.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India are resigned to losing the 16-team event due to Covid on the subcontinent but will remain as the official home nation and therefore retain lucrative staging rights.

The ICC hierarchy are currently quarantining in Greece for 10 days ahead of the World Test Championship in Southampton from June 18 as the UAE remains on the UK’s red list for international travel.

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