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Sri Lanka Cricket's (SLC) interim governing body has softened its stand on national cricketers who have signed contracts with the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) and decided to allow them to play in the domestic cricket matches, an SLC official said.

SLC spokesman Shane Fernando said the decision to revoke the ban on ICL players and allowing them to play only domestic cricket was taken at the interim committee meeting led by its chairman Arjuna Ranatunga on Wednesday at the SLC headquarters here.

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"The interim committee has decided to allow the ICL players to play domestic cricket games, but the ban on them playing at the international level to represent Sri Lanka remains," Fernando told IANS on Friday.

The decision by the SLC has come at a time when the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) slapped a 10-year ban last week on players joining the ICL.

The previous interim committee of the SLC, led by Jayantha Dharmadasa, imposed a total ban on all national cricketers playing the ICL tournament, preventing them from taking part in all forms of cricket and cricket related activities locally and internationally.

It, however, allowed the national players to play the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL).

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Most of its senior players including skipper Mahela Jayawardane, Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Pervez Mahroof, Thilakaratne Dishan, Dilhara Fernando and Ajantha Mendis have signed three-year contracts with the IPL.

According to cricket pundits here, the present SLC administration led by Ranatunga appears to be adopting a very different stand to that of the previous one and some of the players, who had taken part in the rebel ICL tournament in India, have already been allowed to take part in few cricket related activities locally.

Sri Lanka's former left-handed opening batsman Avishka Gunawardena has been allowed to coach the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) while former all-rounder Russel Arnold was allowed to be a commentator for the state-run radio during the recently concluded Indian tour.

A cricket expert commenting said that the ICL and IPL were two rival entities within India and there was no reason for other cricket boards to back one and reject the other.

"ICL or IPL both are from India and both play the same version of cricket. I do not think that other cricket boards should get into their local politics by taking sides," he said.
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