Nine cricketers of Sri Lanka’s ODI squad were asked to disembark a flight to India on Monday after the country’s sports minister, Dayasiri Jayasekera, stepped in and reprimanded the players and the board for failing to get his approval on the squad. Sri Lanka’s three-match ODI series in India begins from December 10.
The unprecedented action was justified citing the country’s sports law – which states that all Sri Lankan national squads are subject to the sports minister’s approval – and highlighted the extent to which governmental oversight exists in the running of the sport in the country.
“The selectors had made the selection on the first [of December] but as they were unable to come to a final decision on the inclusion of certain players, the squad was delayed in being sent to me,” Jayasekera told ESPNcricinfo.
“How can I approve a team at such short notice? If you go by the sports law, it requires the list to be sent three weeks prior to leaving,” he told the the Daily Mirror separately. “Here, they are sending a team just three to four hours before leaving the country. So I had to recall them.
“I have nothing against the players. In fact, Thisara [Perera] called me last night from the flight and said, ‘Sir we have already boarded’. But I told him, ‘Nothing doing’. If I allowed them to go, I am setting a precedent here.”
The move comes a few months after Jayasekera requested that all players’ positions in the squad should be contingent on them passing a rigorous fitness test.
After last night’s incident, the sports minister met SLC officials earlier today and gave his final approval for the ODI squad, which is expected to be announced over the course of the day.