IPL or Sri Lanka - what should come first?

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Graeme LabrooyNever before has a league or format divided opinions in Sri Lanka as much as the IPL and T20 cricket have. Even though for years players have retired from international cricket well before their time to play county cricket, retiring early to play T20s is blasphemy to some. Why?

The critics of the IPL and T20s - the Arjuna Ranatunga camp - are extremely annoyed that during the IPL season Sri Lanka's international and domestic calendar is on hold, players like Muttiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga have chosen to retire from Test and ODI cricket early to play in the IPL and in 2009 a last-minute tour to England was cancelled after Sri Lankan players protested that it was conflicting with the IPL.

There are people all around us who hate change - Ranatunga is one of them. When ODI cricket was first introduced and Ranatunga embraced it, there were old-timers in those days who claimed ODIs and day/night cricket would be the death of Test cricket. It was not. Only to the eternal pessimist does it seem like Test cricket is threatened, others view T20 cricket as a gateway to entice more new fans to Test matches.

The IPL has polarised even journalist in Sri Lanka, with Ranatunga's help of course. The Island's Rex Clementine, who regularly quotes Ranatunga and shares Ranatunga's view on the IPL, has not been shy to criticise and attack players taking part in the IPL and their agents. Perhaps due to Clementine's dislike of the IPL, The Island newspaper does not even carry scores of IPL matches.

Ranatunga has also used Clementine like a pawn in his game to attack the representatives of the Sri Lanka Cricketers' Association (SLCA) - the blokes who look out for the rights of our cricketers - because the SLCA was in the forefront, when Ranatunga was chairman of the cricket board in 2008, presenting the players' case to the media, cricket board and public.

Back then, without much consideration Ranatunga had agreed to help out the England cricket board by sending Sri Lanka to replace Zimbabwe. The English wanted Zimbabwe's tour there in 2009 cancelled because Robert Mugabe was re-elected in a sham election. The players were naturally upset that they would no longer be able to make the big bucks at the IPL.

Whether you agree with the players' stance or not, one thing was clear - Sri Lanka could not afford to upset India with whom they shared cordial ties with and depended on greatly financially. No other tour brings as much revenue for the Sri Lankan board like an Indian tour to Sri Lanka does and it's no secret that Sri Lanka needs India's financial support just to stay afloat.

When he was chairman Ranatunga was still keen on attacking India's T20 tournament in the media, which understandably upset the Indians and prompted a meeting between India and Sri Lankan sports ministry officials in Thailand in 2008. India agreed to pay a fee annually to Sri Lanka in order to release the players and the Sri Lankan cricket board benefits every year from their IPL players' earnings to the tune of almost half a million dollars.

As the head of the cricket board, Ranatunga was more preoccupied with preserving his reputation as fearless and outspoken than being a diplomatic leader of the cricket board. In 2009, India was just into the second season of their new tournament and as far as they were concerned not having Sri Lankan players present was not ideal. It was in fact England who had refused to cooperate and allow Sri Lanka to send a side minus its IPL players. But India's cricket board, Sri Lankan IPL players and those who protect players' rights have borne the brunt of the critiscm for the cancellation of the tour.

"FICA believes that a player has the right to choose where he plays and for whom he plays - the days of 'playing for your country' as the only way you could earn a professional living as a cricketer are well and truly behind us," the chief executive of the Federation of International Players' Associations (FICA) Tim May told ESPNCricinfo recently.

"International cricket needs to realise that there is a competitor to their ability to contract players, and to ensure they react appropriately and progressively to these new market forces. The imposition of unenforceable regulations (such as No Objection Clauses) is obviously not the answer.

"International cricket bodies need to make international cricket attractive to players. These measures should include smarter programming of matches, addressing the volume-of-cricket issues, offering fair terms and conditions in contracts, meeting their agreed contractual obligations and embracing player input."

Instead of authoritarianism and attacking people like Graeme Labrooy, whose job as the SLCA secretary back in 2008 was to ensure players' rights and interests were looked after, Ranatunga and his cohorts should focus on improving the earnings and well-being of Sri Lankan players so they can easily turn down overseas offers to play for Sri Lanka.

So, what should come first - is it IPL or Sri Lanka? Neither. The players should come first. After years of playing for next to nothing, it's time we focused on the best interests of these incredibly skilled athletes.

© Island Cricket


logan's picture

Extremely biased article against Arjuna.This Gavin seems to be a big IPL fan (probably in the payroll of charlie austin!!!)

Now Graham Labrooy is a match referee in the IPL.Usually sri lankan cricketers pay 2% of contracts and tour money for the SL cricketers association.SLCA stands up only for the national players.Tell me when have they voiced any concern regarding club cricketers and their remunerations?

Also if I'm correct,Wayamba Elevens players are yet to receive payments for their participation at champions league? Where was our 'guardian angel' labrooy then?

What hurts sri lankan fans is not our players taking part in IPL.But those who say IPL should be given priority over national cricket.That's not how aussies approach the game.Even WestIndies have principles but here we have people like Gavin saying India is our big brother and we are dependent on her for all our lives.I think now our people know the real colours of IPL and the likes of Malinga.

Arjuna and clementine have done a marvellous job,eventhough I don't agree with all what they say!

Asanka2002's picture

Logan - Roshan Mahnamana and Ranjan Madugalle are also match referees at IPL. Stop repeating Rex Clementine's ridiculous stories. They dont mean anything to anyone but people like you who dont know what your talking about and just repeat what other people say.

Aussies can turn down IPL because their board pays them on time and plenty! Thats what Gavin is saying in this write up. I agree 100% with Gavin.

Anonymous's picture

Mr Logan do you know the name of all player agents or on Charlie Austin because Rex Clemanatine writes his name all of the time? Have you heard of Roshan Abeysinghe & Ravi de Silva? Why can't this writer be in their payroll? Why only Austin's payroll?

Sakthivel's picture
Member since:
28 March 2012
Last activity:
6 weeks 4 days

Its real fact. No one can deny this,Good read. Thanks Gavin

Merlin's picture
Member since:
7 December 2008
Last activity:
2 years 40 weeks

Great article Gavin. Totally agree with you.

And to logan (#1) Gavin is not a fan of IPL. Read his old articles.

Read this article by Gavin and read last part:


If he was a fan of IPL or on agent's pay roll he wont write that.

Gunasena's picture

Arjuna scr*d it up for himself. He was like a bull in a china shop. He has nobody else to blame but himself. He will say and do anything to get back at people he doesn't like. When Whatmore applied to Pakistan job few years back Ranatunga said not to take him and they didnt take him. Now Pakistan realise what a great coach Whatmore is and hired him few years later!!! And where is Arjuna now?? He has become a dirty politician!!

kushan1987's picture
Member since:
15 March 2012
Last activity:
4 years 42 weeks

IPL or Sri Lanka? defo SL , but if SLC treating players like shit they should select IPL , malinga should get at least a 60% of salary

(Last edited by kushan1987 on May 2, 2012 - 08:41)
Anonymous's picture

I used to be one of those people who was vehemently opposed to the IPL. Now I am not. Not because I like the IPL; I believe the IPL and Twenty20 cricket on the whole is utter rubbish. However, the players are professionals. Cricket is their livelihood and they have a limited amount of time to make money. And considering that Sri Lanka Cricket is without money and did not pay Sri Lankan cricketers for nearly a year, the players have every right to go earn their money elsewhere. Consider Malinga. Why on earth would Malinga agree to get paid $40,000 for ODI & Twenty20 one year by SLC when he can make $1.1 million for only seven weeks of bowling four overs every match in the IPL. Are you honestly telling me you would take the $40,000 over the $1.1 million?

Sakala Bujang's picture
Member since:
8 April 2011
Last activity:
28 weeks 4 days

National Duty is THE PINNACLE for every cricket player...There is no higher calling. IPL is a T20 domestic league, despite its international stars it is only a domestic scene. The only interesting thing about it is money. The SLC may give rubbish contracts, so if they need money, play, but national duty ALWAYS come first.

Sulaimaan's picture
Member since:
3 December 2010
Last activity:
1 year 29 weeks

Many points in this article dont make sense.T20 cricket itself has never been a problem for the 'Arjuna camp', it has been the IPL.
And the comparing of county cricket with IPL, players who have no more international cricket left are the ones who did join county cricket while in the IPL it has been the other way, the ones wanted by their national sides have left.
Not only the ECB, any proper thinking cricket board wouldnt want to host a second string team and waste its resources.Although Arjuna has to take blame for this incident.
This article seems to throw a lot of dirt on Arjuna but I'd say if any person deserved to be listened to, its Arjuna.He has collectively contributed much more to SLC than any other player. Its after his 1998 team won in England that SL was granted 3match Tests over there.Thanks to this years IPL, SL would only be given two tests on its next trip to England.

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