Muttiah Muralitharan has spoken out against the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to ban Sri Lankan players from competing in the Chennai leg of the IPL.
The governing council of the IPL then kowtowed to the government's decision by asking teams not to field Sri Lankan players in Chennai — a move that will hit some teams particularly hard if they qualify for the second stage of the tournament where two of the four games are to be held in that city.
Speaking to NDTV, the Sri Lankan great, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, said he “it was a sad for cricket” that they are not allowed to play in a certain part of India.
Muralitharan said he has spoken to his team and they have agreed to let him play the other games that will not be played in Chennai.
Muralitharan’s wife is from Chennai and the off-spinner lamented not getting to play in the city despite his strong personal connection with it.
“We are entertainers, we play cricket to entertain people and don’t want to get involved in politics, but if one state is saying we can’t play there, we have to obey their wish,” Muralitharan said.
He added that despite being a Tamil he didn’t have any problems playing cricket for his country for 20 years. “The government and the cricket board always supported me throughout my career even when I went through a lot of problems,” he said.
“Earlier there was a war (between Tamils and Lankans) but now it is finished, people are living in peace. So authorities in India must come and see how we are living in Sri Lanka and forget the past. We don't want another war-like situation now.” [Link]
RANATUNGA WANTS IPL BOYCOTT
Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who has always been a scathing critic of the IPL, said Sri Lankan players should boycott the cash-awash league when they are not welcome in India.
“Barring Sri Lankan cricketers from playing in a Twenty20 league is not going to help resolve any issue,” Ranatunga told Indian Express.
“In such a scenario, my advice to Sri Lankan cricketers would be to put their pride over money and boycott the Indian Premier League unless they are allowed to play at all venues.”
“If you are not welcome in one part of the country then why play in other venues just because of the money.”
“It won't be easy for players to say no to their pay cheques but at times one has to stand up and say 'no thank you' rather than compromise for the sake of money. Sri Lankan cricketers are not as well-paid as some of their counterparts and playing in the IPL is a huge attraction but by giving the tournament a skip they make a statement.” [Link]
SPORTS MINISTER SEEKS PLAYER SAFETY
Sri Lanka sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said he was seeking assurances about the safety of all 13 Sri Lankan players signed up to play in the Indian Premier League, including star batsman Kumar Sangakkara and the record-breaking spin bowler Muralitharan.
"Our cricket board has written to the Indian board and our external affairs ministry has asked the Indian government for assurances of safety," he said.
"The situation in Tamil Nadu appears to be not good right now so no player will be allowed to go without the necessary guarantees of safety."