Big-hitting West Indies star Chris Gayle, South Africa's Faf du Plessis and Sri Lanka's Twenty20 skipper Lasith Malinga are among the big names that have withdrawn from the Lanka Premier League tournament, officials and reports said Thursday.
Gayle, slanted to be the top attraction in the 23-match T20 league starting on November 26, told the Kandy Tuskers he was pulling out due to an injury, a source close to the team told AFP.
"Close associates" of Malinga meanwhile told local media that the veteran paceman was not match-fit.
"For the last eight months he has not had any practice and therefore he is unable to take part in the LPL without proper training," the ThePapare.com website reported, quoting an associate of the 37-year-old.
Strict quarantine restrictions meant all players for the five teams were to join a "bio-secure bubble" at a hotel in the island's south by Thursday.
Sri Lanka Cricket officials told AFP du Plessis said he had national team duties and could not play in the league.
The officials confirmed late Thursday that none of the three players had arrived at the hotel.
Health authorities have insisted on a one-week quarantine at the hotel amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Matches are also to be played at Hambantota stadium with no spectators allowed.
Other players who have withdrawn include England player Ravi Bopara and Kabir Ali, a former English cricketer who was due to coach one of the teams.
Ali tested positive for the coronavirus just before he was due to arrive in Sri Lanka and was replaced by former South African star Herschelle Gibbs who had travelled to the island as a commentator for the competition.
The league was postponed three times over the pandemic.