Sangakkara to choose between Kandurata and Sunrisers
Kumar Sangakkara will have to choose between playing for Kandurata Maroons and Sunrisers Hyderabad in the upcoming Champions League T20 in India, after Sri Lanka Cricket have expressed a strong desire for him to represent Kandurata in the tournament. SLC has gone as far as seeking legal counsel on whether they can ask Sangakkara to play for Kandurata, even if it will effectively cost both Sangakkara and the board significant sums of money if he plays for his local team.
Sangakkara had previously said his IPL contract leaves him with no choice but to play for Sunrisers, but CLT20 organisers have since confirmed that players are free to choose, although they must forego 20% of their IPL salary if they do not play for their IPL team. For Sangakkara, who is on a $700,000 annual contract, this would mean a loss of $140,000.
The Champions League rules also state that if a cricketer is a part of two qualifying teams, and does not play for the team from his home country in the tournament, the team he represents must pay his home side $150,000. As the Kandurata team is a direct extension of SLC, it is the board that stands to lose out on these funds.
"My understanding is that there are financial consequences for not playing for your IPL team, but not necessarily breach of contract consequences," Dean Kino, head of business and legal affairs for the Champions League, said. "Under Champions League rules, the player has a choice."
Players' tri-partite contract with the IPL and the IPL franchisee defers to the Champions League rules on the subject of whether he can represent another team in the tournament. Section 3.1 (h)(i)(iii) states that a player must play for his IPL side in the Champions League, "unless the rules of the CLT20 permit the player to elect to play for another team which has qualified for the CLT20, and the player so elects." Thus, because the Champions League allows him to choose, there is no breach of contract if Sangakkara plays for the Kandurata side.
SLC have maintained that they would like Sangakkara to play for their own team, after Kandurata gained entry to the Champions League qualifiers by lifting the Super Fours provincial Twenty20 trophy.
"Obviously we would prefer him to play for Kandurata," Super Fours director Ajit Jayasekara said. "We have nominated him for Kandurata, but I believe Hyderabad have also nominated him.
"We have presented the playing conditions governing the IPL and Champions League to our lawyers and are awaiting a decision from them. We are following this procedure just to ensure that there is a correct interpretation of the players' conditions. We'll have to wait and see."
Jayasekara also said SLC will be unable to fully compensate Sangakkara for his losses if he plays for Kandurata, but did not rule out offering him compensation of some sort. "We cannot match up to his fee at Hyderabad, because it's not fair on the other players. I can't comment on whether he will get some kind of compensation, because that's an executive committee decision."
The Sunrisers squad for the tournament has not officially been named, but ESPNcricinfo understands that he is in the franchise's plans for the Champions League. Sunrisers has also scheduled Sangakkara in for appearances at functions during the tournament, and he is expected to be part of their advertising as well.
Seam-bowler Nuwan Kulasekara also plays for both Kandurata and an IPL franchise that has qualified for the Champions League. He is unlikely to be picked for Chennai Super Kings, however, for whom did not play a single match this season, thanks largely to the ban on Sri Lankan players in Chennai.
If Sangakkara plays for Sunrisers ahead of Kandurata, he will be vulnerable to criticism from some fans at home, among whom anti-IPL sentiment is readily espoused. Earlier in the year, the board had attempted to cast its cricketers as mercenaries who value financial gain over country ahead of a contracts dispute, and in April, Dinesh Chandimal was praised by sections of the public for turning down a soft offer from an IPL team. Sangakkara is perhaps the most popular personality in Sri Lanka, but even he felt the fallout from the contracts crisis, when he was abused at the boundary by a fan in Galle Stadium, during the first Test against Bangladesh in March.
Sangakkara is presently in the West Indies where he helped Jamaica Tallawahs win the Caribbean Premier League title. He returns to Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here