Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Nishantha Ranatunga on Thursday said it will not stop its players from participating in the Indian Premier League after getting assurances from the BCCI about their safety but made it clear that the SLC will not accept political interference.
"I don't think Lankan players should boycott the IPL just because of political party and views. The game should be kept away from it. That is the SLC policy. BCCI has no reservations with regard to our players coming in. If they (BCCI) are supportive and want our players to come there, we will be happy to do so," Nishantha told NDTV.
"As long as BCCI is supporting our cricket, we support them. It is our duty to make sure that if BCCI wants our players, it is our responsibility to provide them the players. In terms of political interference and involvement, we will not accept it. We will keep the relationship with the Board and take the game forward," he added.
Bowing to intense political pressure, top Sri Lankan players were withdrawn from the Chennai matches of the IPL after Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa refused to host them due to the growing political tensions in the state resulting from the treatment of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Former captain Arjun Ranatunga had slammed the IPL Governing Council's decision to withdraw Sri Lanka cricketers from Chennai matches of the tournament and asked the players to opt out of the entire high-profile event beginning on April 3.
Nishantha said after talks with their Sports Ministry and the BCCI, the SLC decided to allow its players for the IPL given they did not feature in Chennai games. However, he made it clear that the players are free to make their own decisions.
"I think it's my duty to explain the process followed. We wrote to the BCCI and in return they gave us an assurance about one week back that they are taking maximum precautions and are evaluating the situation.
"Two days back, we got a communication from them that it is advisable not to sympathise to Tamil Nadu because of happening there and we contacted our Sports Ministry and they also said so," he said.
"From cricket boards point of view, we have told that if players are ready to go, there is no objection and other than TN state, they can go for IPL if they wish to. In case, there is a security issue, we will not allow our players to go. But at the end of the day, it's their decision to go or not," he said.
Nishantha said most of the people in Tamil Nadu would love to see Sri Lankan players turning up for their respective franchises.
"Look at the people of Tamil Nadu, most of them would love to see Sri Lanka cricketers. Look at the background, we had a TN tournament 15-20 years back and this is how we started developing our game. There is a big relationship between the two countries and the two states. It is because of few people or few politicians....I don't think we should look at that," he said.