Sri Lanka Cricket is unlikely to penalise any players who opt out of the proposed T20 in Lahore, but has reminded cricketers that they have a “contractual obligation” to play where the board requires them to.
Although the recent World XI series in Lahore was a success, Sri Lanka’s own visit – for the third T20, on October 29 – is not confirmed yet. For now, SLC is positive the match will be played in Lahore, but will make further security assessments closer to the game. According to CEO Ashley de Silva, the board is committed to addressing player concerns.
“I don’t think [there will be repercussions for players], but we would look at their security first and give them the assurance that nothing would happen if they go to Pakistan,” de Silva said. “As per the agreement they have signed with Sri Lanka Cricket, there is a contractual obligation. But always the players can bring concerns to the notice of the management. So far they have not brought anything to our notice.”
Nevertheless, players are likely to have reservations about the trip. Two current cricketers – batsman Chamara Kapugedara and bowler Suranga Lakmal – had been on board the bus that was attacked in Lahore, in 2009. Lakmal, in fact, had even sustained minor injuries. It is possible that one of both of those players will be picked in the T20 squad, but even if not, the remaining players will be aware of the trauma suffered by the players who lived through that attack. They will have also have heard about the anxiety experienced by former team-mates’ family members during the ordeal.
For now, Test captain Dinesh Chandimal remained non-committal about the players’ stance. He had, however, received a positive – though brief – report from Thisara Perera, who played in the recent World XI matches in Lahore.
“We couldn’t talk to Thisara much, but when I spoke to him once he said the security was very good,” Chandimal said. “The players will have to sit down and make the decision together.”
According to de Silva, SLC’s final decision on whether a squad will visit Lahore will be made soon after the Test series in the UAE finishes, on October 10.
“As planned, we would be sending one of our security personnel to Pakistan at least two weeks in advance of the team going there to pad out an assessment and give us a report,” he said. “As indicated before, our prime concern will be the security of the players. If we feel there is a security threat, we will not send the team. We will assess the situation prior to taking the final call.” (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)