Sri Lanka Cricket's (SLC) interim governing body has allowed its national cricketers who have signed contracts with the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) to play in the domestic cricket matches, though they still are banned from representing the national team.
“Players will be allowed to play for their respective clubs and share their expertise, but cannot represent the country,” SLC's media manager Shane Fernando said.
An SLC interim committee made the decision last week, although it has only now been made known, paving the way for five players and an umpire to return to domestic ranks.
The decision comes two days after the Bangladesh Cricket Board joined its other major cricketing counterparts to ban 13 players, including former captain Habibul Bashar, who joined ICL.
The banned players included former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu, Russel Arnold, Upul Chandana, Avishka Gunawardene, and Saman Jayantha, alongwith umpire Ranmore Martinesz who is now free to stand in matches.
Of the following, Atapattu, Arnold and Chandana have already retired from international cricket.
The ICL was launched last year in a direct conflict of interests with the BCCI. The BCCI not only banned its domestic player and officials from participating in official cricket, but also convinced other cricketing boards to take similar action against their “rebel” players. In response to ICL, BCCI also launched its own Indian Premier League (IPL), which was very lucrative and a massive success.
Previously, banned ICL players have only been able to play in county cricket where trade laws in Great Britain allow their participation.
"We are happy that Sri Lanka Cricket has taken a positive step towards the game," ICL business head Himanshu Mody commented, "and we hope that this decision will pave the way for Sri Lankan cricketers to play both for the ICL and their country in the near future."
ICL executive board member Kiran More released a press statement welcoming the decision on Friday and called the event “a victory for cricket”.
"ICL or IPL both are from India and both play the same version of cricket. I do not think that other cricket boards should get into their local politics by taking sides," a leading cricket commentator commented.
BCCI secretary Niranjan Modi put the ball in ICC’s court, by responding, “We are concerned but this will be decided at ICC level.”
ICC has not clarified its status on ICL yet, though Irish ICL player Niall O’Brien was among the four shortlisted for the Associate Player of the Year award by ICC earlier this month.