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Sri Lankan players to return home

WELLINGTON, DEC. 30 . Sri Lanka's cricketers had to remain in New Zealand an extra day, after withdrawing from their scheduled tour, with most desperate to return home to their families and help with the relief effort in their devastated homeland.

A shortage of flights on Thursday forced the visitors to remain in New Zealand for an extra day. They were set to fly to Colombo on Friday, arriving on New Year's Day.

``They are really down. They're eagerly awaiting the flight home to be back with their families. They want to be back home as soon as possible to help with the relief effort,'' Sri Lankan team manager Brendon Kuruppu said.

``We'll get home and assess the situation, do things as a team and try to help as much as possible in the affected areas.''

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Martin Snedden said timetable and financial issues relating to the cancellation were minor in the circumstances. ``The welfare of the Sri Lankan people and the players and getting the players home as quickly as possible is paramount,'' Snedden said.

None of the Sri Lankan players lost close relatives in the disaster though the mothers of two players were injured. Others had lost friends or distant relatives. — AP

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