Sri Lanka news March 16, 2014

Sri Lanka full-strength but contracts unsigned


Sri Lanka's top team departed for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh on Sunday morning, but the standoff over player contracts persisted, and will now likely only be resolved when the team returns. A board official had offered players an opportunity to sign when the team assembled at SLC's Maitland Place offices at 4am on Sunday, but the players had refused.*

The players had met late on Saturday to discuss their position, but although SLC had issued threats of sending a second-string team to the World T20 earlier in the day, the players maintained their opposition to a contract that does not feature a percentage cut of the payment SLC receives for the team's participation in global tournaments.

On Saturday night, SLC CEO Ashley de Silva indicated the board was content to defer contract negotiations. "If they don't sign it before they leave, I suppose we will look at it again when they come back," he said.

SLC stands to gain most from its cricketers playing in the tournament unsigned. The board is no longer bound to pay the $500,000 flat fee, nor the two-tiered incentive payments it had offered as part of its revised offer, which was a partial sop to the players' demand for 20% of the gross sum received by SLC for tournament participation.

As had happened in 2012, when contracts were not signed until mid-July, the players may not even receive match fees or regular salaries as long as the contracts remain unsigned. These funds are likely to be retroactively credited when the contracts are agreed to, however.

The players had softened their demands by the eve of their departure, asking for 12% of the tournament fee. The ICC is expected to pay SLC approximately $8.9 million for the World T20, meaning the figure the players had held out for, was about $1.07 million. The difference between the guaranteed flat fee the board offered and the percentage sought by the players amounts to about $570,000 for the tournament. But beyond those sums, the players' objection to SLC's proposal is largely driven by the belief they are due a percentage of the ICC payment, primarily as compensation for the use of their images in promotional material for global tournaments.

Sri Lanka's players had received a cut of the ICC event fee from 2003 to 2012, until the board struck that payment from player contracts last year. The players' grievances are also fueled by the complaint that they are being penalised for the administrators' misuse of finances. The board had run up debts of almost $70 million when they built two new stadia and renovated a third for the 2011 World Cup. Player payment has caused strife at the beginning of every 12-month contracts cycle since then.

The present standoff is also believed to have caused conflict within the board. President Jayantha Dharmadasa had been sympathetic to the players' concerns, but was outmuscled in the board room by an opposing faction.

*0600GMT, March 16: The article was updated with the latest on the contracts issues

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Krishna on March 17, 2014, 7:40 GMT

    Full strength?..I have never seen Chandimal score a matchwinning innings.In short if SriLanka cricket-(Sanga+mahela)<Zimbabwe.

  • Iraj on March 17, 2014, 4:47 GMT

    Poor Management strategy from SLC. I think the players should be paid little fixed fee+ large performance basis incentives. They should build a proper performance evaluation system with the help of selectors. If SLC act smart this issue will not be disclosed to media. Crummy piece of administration. Jayasuriya has done his best to resolve the dispute. Better they could find a long lasting solution for this. It is an extra burden for the players & such disputes will demotivate them to perform. Anyway I wish all the best & strength to SL team to win the title for us despite many obstacles to face. Good Luck boys.

  • Ramya on March 17, 2014, 3:44 GMT

    @Jury Why do u want to drag Ind into this mate?! Anyways FYI there is an aspiting talent amongst the U-19 ranks who has been lauded by Dravid Sanju Samson is the name - created quite a reputation in the IPL - hard hitting batsman, excellent wkt keeper and he is just 18!

    There is life after Dhoni - not to mention Virat, Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Jadeja - all 25/26 yrs of age & have already proved in the internatopnal arena!!! Ind will not be found wanting mate!!!

  • $$ milind on March 17, 2014, 2:32 GMT

    Thank you Sri Lanka Cricket Board for this nuisance. I hope the dressing room takes a toil and Sri Lankan do not win even if they reach finals. ( Not a SL supporter ).

  • Nuwan on March 17, 2014, 2:15 GMT

    It was like in a day today in 1996 we changed the Cricketing History by winnings the WC.... Still can remember that day.... Proud to be Srilankan...

  • Aviral on March 16, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    @jury really??? I didn't quite know that!!! ha ha

  • udendra on March 16, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    I won't be surprised if SL exits in first round itself. How can you expect a demotivated bunch to perform well? It's the non-professionalism of the Administrators that is to be blamed.

  • Eranda on March 16, 2014, 17:47 GMT

    Looking at Sri lanka's current form and winning the ASIA cup final, It looks like after 96 world cup we are in the best position to win a major tournament. If we can win the semi final with pakistan or australia this time, we should do it. We have the right balance and we also have a team that bats deep plus we know the conditions well and most importantly we broke the jinx with finals by winning the ASIA CUP. so it looks like all the elements our in place for a SRI LANKAN VICTORY.



  • Dummy4 on March 16, 2014, 16:59 GMT

    Big players like Sangakara, Jayawardane, Dilshan, Malinga and Herath can opt to retire together in the same day before WC2015 which will put Sri Lanka in dire straits.

  • peter on March 16, 2014, 15:03 GMT

    It is unfortunate that the Board doesn't realize that it is the players that allow them to maintain the lifestyle they do. Again, unfortunately they will use the fact that the players left without a contract as leverage when they come home. If that doesn't work, there is always the option to tarnish their images in the media, see Maliga, Sanga and Mahela as examples.

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