Cricket: Sri Lankans stay on tour, Napier match postponed

Sri Lanka's cricket team were granted their five-day period of national mourning while New Zealand's top players will return to domestic cricket as the tour was yesterday put on ice until the weekend.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Martin Snedden confirmed late last night he had agreed to the Sri Lankan board's request for a five-day period of national mourning after Sunday's devastating floods.

More than 12,000 people were killed when tsunamis hit the island on Sunday, but that toll was rising all the time.

It means Wednesday's second one-day international scheduled for Napier's McLean Park will now be played on January 11, with the tour to resume in Queenstown on Sunday.

The scheduled matches in Christchurch on January 4 and Wellington on January 8 will follow, with Napier to round out the five-match series on January 11.

The two tests would still be played in Hamilton and Wellington but would likely be pushed back several days to accommodate a warmup match beforehand.

They were originally scheduled to start on January 15 and 22 respectively.

Snedden said he responded to the Sri Lankan board's wishes after they held an emergency meeting yesterday.

"They decided what they wanted to do and that seemed more than reasonable to me," Snedden said.

"After talking to (Sri Lanka manager) Brendon Kuruppu it was pretty clear how badly affected he and the team had been."

No players or management had lost immediate family in the floods, but Kuruppu, a former Sri Lanka test opener, said they were deeply affected.

"You cannot really assess the situation right now, it's something you cannot really imagine," Kuruppu said.

"Cricket is not the thing in our minds right at the moment."

Two players' mothers were injured by floodwaters while a relative of another player's wife had been killed.

Kuruppu would not name the players but it is understood former captain and opening batsman Sanath Jayasuriya's mother was injured in the southern part of the island, where the cities of Galle and Matara were badly affected.

Meanwhile, Snedden said New Zealand coach John Bracewell was working with provincial coaches to try and fit as many Black Caps as possible into the next round of State Shield tomorrow.

Snedden and Kuruppu held a joint press conference yesterday, where it became clear how grim the mood was in the Sri Lankan camp.

Kuruppu would not say if returning home had been discussed by the team, but admitted it would be tough to motivate them for a game soon.

"It will be a difficult thing in the immediate future, but as professional cricketers if there is a job to do we would be getting into cricket mode," Kuruppu said.

"We are really concerned about the people in Sri Lanka. The team want to send their sympathies to the families who have lost their loved ones, and our thoughts are with them."

New Zealand, who won the tour opener by seven wickets in Auckland on Sunday, planned to pass on their feelings personally to their opponents.

Bracewell said his team were all affected by the television images.

"It's massively devastating, it's a shock to everybody and our sympathies do go out to them. That goes without saying," Bracewell said.

"Every time you see Sky news there's another tally. It's something that hurts and to know that some of your opposition are involved in it is a little close.

"I've no doubt that our guys will talk to their guys about it. It's pretty rough."

New Zealand will reassemble in Queenstown later this week hoping for a better result than a year ago.

Then, they beat Pakistan in the first one-dayer in Auckland before being hammered by six wickets in Queenstown, although they won the next three to clean up the series 4-1.

- NZPA

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a3 at 23 Jul 2014 03:47:20 Processing Time: 1033ms