Sri Lankan cricketers playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) have agreed to return home early to prepare for the tour of England after Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) turned down the Board of Control for Cricket in India's request to allow them to stay on till May 15.
"The BCCI has asked us to reconsider our decision, but we have not changed our stand. We did sign a no-objection agreement with the players to play in the IPL. But there was no date to return. I am sure the BCCI will understand country must come first before IPL," SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said on Wednesday.
Chief selector and former captain Duleep Mendis also admitted that the recall was necessary.
"They have to mentally prepare and switch to play the longer version of the game. The first half of the English summer is not very easy and we want the boys to train together and focus on playing with red balls instead of the white ones that they have been playing with in the past two months," Mendis said.
Sri Lanka's newly appointed captain Tillakaratne Dilshan also said that he was not unhappy to return early.
"Personally, I am not unhappy to return early. Playing for my country is more important than playing for IPL. I think everybody selected for England tour will be happy to come early," he said.
"We have a new interim coach (Stuart Law) and a new batting coach (Marvan Atapattu). I am also new as captain. We need to prepare together to build up for the big England tour," he said.
Dilshan is among 11 players who have been asked to return home by May 5, to prepare for the series starting May 14. Sri Lanka will play three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 international during the England tour.