10 prominent Sri Lankan cricket players, including T20 skipper Lasith Malinga and former captains Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera, have decided to skip the upcoming tour of Pakistan citing security concerns, officials said Monday.
After a deadly terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus during a Test match in Lahore on March 2009, a majority of foreign teams have refused to travel to Pakistan.
The Sri Lanka Cricket board said in a statement that players in a preliminary squad were briefed on security arrangements for the six-match limited over series, and given the freedom to decide if they wanted to travel.
After the briefing, ten players “chose to stay away” from the series of three One-Day Internationals and three T20 games, scheduled to begin on September 27 in Karachi, it said.
Besides Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera other players who opted to skip the tour includes Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne.
There were some players who gladly accepted to play in Pakistan. Batsman Danushka Gunathilaka said he believed security would be adequate. “From what they told us, I think there will be very tight security,” Gunathilaka said.
The Show Must Go One – PCB
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) says the refusal of 10 senior Sri Lankan players to tour Pakistan “should not make a difference”, and that the Pakistan-Sri Lanka series will be held according to schedule.
“It should not make a difference if senior [Sri Lankan] players come or not,” it added, noting that the cricketers opting out of the series was an internal matter for Sri Lanka and that the SLC chooses the players for the series.
Sri Lanka are scheduled to play two Test matches against Pakistan, but the dates and the venue are yet to be announced. Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister Harin Fernando has declined to play the longer versions of the game in Pakistan and suggested the Tests be played in the UAE, where Pakistan have played many of their home series.