Sri Lanka news March 2, 2013

SLC locks out 23 top players


Sri Lankan cricket is headed towards a major crisis with the board on Saturday night freezing out 23 of its top players over a contracts deadlock, less than a week before the start of the home series against Bangladesh. SLC, which met the players earlier in the day, has told its selectors not to consider those cricketers for any international cricket, including the Bangladesh series, until they agree to their new contract terms.

Player contracts expired on February 28, and all 60 players who were offered new contracts have refused to sign them before the March 2 deadline prescribed by the board.

"We spoke to all of the players present at the meeting, and gave our viewpoints and they also gave their points," SLC president Upali Dharmadasa said. "We have said, 'Nothing doing. We're going to stick to our guns.' It ended like that.

"They will not be getting any facilities that Sri Lanka Cricket has been offering them, including, physios, masseurs and coaches. They can't come for practice at our venues."

New Test captain Angelo Mathews and Twenty20 captain Dinesh Chandimal are among the players frozen out, along with the bulk of Sri Lanka's Test and ODI players. Mathews and Chandimal were appointed captains just over two weeks ago, and are yet to play any matches in their new capacity.

Dharmadasa did not rule out the possibility of Sri Lanka's top cricketers playing in the first Test against Bangladesh in Galle, but only if the players signed their contracts by then. Kumar Sangakkara is the only player immediately affected by the lockout - he was due to play in the three-day tour match against Bangladesh in Matara, which begins on Sunday. The match was supposed to be Sangakkara's return to competitive cricket after fracturing his index finger in the Boxing Day Test.

Dharmadasa also said SLC had not planned any more meetings with the players, but had invited them to put their concerns in writing, and present them to the board.

The major point of dispute in the new contracts is SLC's refusal to pay the players 25% of the board's earnings from ICC events, as they have done since 2003. This payment is to compensate players for their images being used by the ICC and its sponsors to promote the tournament as well as during the event.

Other points of contention include the board's move to freeze payment to cricketers taking part in the IPL for as long as he is with his IPL team, a clause tying pay to team performance, and the scrapping of a convention that allowed players' wives to travel on one tour a year on SLC's money.

Contract terms also sparked a dispute in 2012, though SLC had a weaker bargaining position then, having not paid its players since the 2011 World Cup. The disputes were eventually settled in July after players threatened to boycott the Sri Lanka Premier League, after having played international cricket without an official contract for over four months. Payment from ICC events had also been a sticking point on that occasion, as well as a clause that required the players to have SLC permission before speaking to media.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 3, 2013, 22:53 GMT

    Obviously anything that is said as negative will not be posted by the moderators. I think the Sri Lankan players and the Board deserve each other. The players who have IPL contracts can feed their families. Lasith Malinga is a wise man. I do not care for cricket in your country or the Deshis.

  • Dummy4 on March 3, 2013, 18:35 GMT

    To all the gents who think the players are greedy, selfish and should be proud of playing for the country, for some reason I don't see you guys in a government job or working in a charity organization and let me guess you guys as sure as hell don't clean the streets on the weekends to keep the country clean. My point is, no matter what we do people are always motivated by money and in the end of the day these players are no different. Why is it that when all of us run around like mad dogs to grab a promotion or change jobs immediately when we are offered better pay have to judge players, who usually have a 15 year window to make as much money as they can to support them selves and their families for the rest of the lives?? knowing the history behind the people who run the SLC, all this money that SLC wants to cut back will definitely not be going for the development of the game, instead to the pockets of a very few.We need to support our boys and have their backs in this issue...

  • Sabir on March 3, 2013, 17:10 GMT

    I see the player being very greedy. for Once, I agree with SLC this time. in 2003, there was no IPL and the dynamics were different. Now, players earn millions of dollars via leagues. Looks like its all about the money now. There is no limit to their greed. The board should go ahead and have a fresh team.

  • Janaka on March 3, 2013, 15:56 GMT

    Big bosses think they can do anything. But, they should realize that if not players, they are nothing but a laughing stock.

  • Yoker on March 3, 2013, 15:44 GMT

    Don't understand why so much of politics involved with this countries cricket board. Why can't ICC include a ban on politicians entering the cricket board and controlling it while causing havoc instead of developing the sport and treating the players. This is far the worst cricket board in the world. it's not cricket with SLC its all about money and politics. ICC needs to protect the game for the goodwill of all developing nations. Logart obviously failed but ICC needs to step in or banned SL cricket until a proper clean board is elected.

  • Hari on March 3, 2013, 14:58 GMT

    I agree with the stand taken by the SLC. 25% for use of images - need not be paid, players can use the "country player" status to their advantage anyway, in whatever way they want. They should not be paid for the period they are on contract with IPL team - perfectly justified. Wives should travel at player's expense, unless the player is new and hasn't yet been "enriched" by playing for SLC. Maybe 25 matches could be the cut off for paying for bearing spouse's travel expenses

  • Dummy4 on March 3, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    sl players should be given what they ask for. SL cricket is full of idiots. Please don't Penalize our players for your incapability. Please don't try to penalize our players & destroy the future of our cricket just because of your incapability.

  • Yasiru on March 3, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    SLC should not forget that they'd not be in their position, had it not been for the players... Being professional cricketers for a limited time of their life, I think the players should be given what they ask for. It is a disgrace for SLC to say they wont pay, so that SLC members can fill theiri pockets..

  • V.L on March 3, 2013, 13:22 GMT

    SLC administrators have dug themselves this pit, by building needless stadiums in remote areas, spending millions of dollars. And now they are unable to climb out of it. Me thinks the players are right. 25% of the revenue is the least the players deserve for risking countless injuries while playing for their country. Really sad state of affairs and one can't help but feel for the SL cricket fan!

  • beverly on March 3, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    Continued: I want to conclude by saying that the two parties need to renegotiate the deal, and the players should not seek any payment from the Board when they are on duty working for somebody else. They should also agree that their pay must be tied to their performance. the Board should pay the players their usual 25% of the ICC earnings and continue to treat the players wives to a single ticket to see their husbands play in one other country outside Sri Lanka.

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