Much as they would like to focus solely on the Bangladesh series, Sri Lanka's mens' cricketers will probably have the ongoing contracts impasse
with Sri Lanka Cricket at the back of their minds. This much was conceded by captain Kusal Perera
, who is leading a young side
in his first assignment in the job.
On Friday, a legal representative issued a statement on behalf of all 24 players offered central contracts this year, rejecting the proposed pay scheme, which sees senior players in particular take substantial cuts. The players had also been dismayed that their proposed salaries had also been made public by SLC earlier in the week.
"We do have concerns about the contracts," Perera said ahead of the first ODI in Dhaka, on Saturday. "We can't say it's not affecting us - that would be a lie and everyone would know it's a lie. But I'm hoping we can talk to the cricket board and resolve this fairly.
"With the contracts, we're going to come back to Sri Lanka and discuss with the board then. But before then we are just trying to think about how we will win this series. What I'm trying to do is give the players confidence to go and do what they know how to do, because if they are fearful, they won't get the best out of their skills."
"Just because you get thrown in at the death, doesn't mean you'll get it right straightaway. It's when you get hit around by batsmen that you get used to bowling at the death. They need experience."
On top of the contracts, Perera also suggested players were unhappy with having to do fitness tests for future tours, in the middle of ongoing tours. Although all the players on tour have passed the fitness test that qualifies them to play in the Bangladesh series, Sri Lanka's players had had another fitness test in Dhaka earlier this week with next month's tour of England in mind. Two players are understood to have failed the two-kilometre time trial.
"We did have a fitness test recently, and there are concerns among players about the fact that it was held during an ongoing series," Perera said. "There were two players whose fitness standards were not up to the mark. They'll have to improve them once we get back to Sri Lanka in order to qualify for the England tour."
On the cricket front, Perera hoped to find long-term solutions for Sri Lanka's death-bowling problems. Sri Lanka have no fewer than six frontline seam-bowling options on tour, with Dushmantha Chameera, Isuru Udana, Asitha Fernando, Shiran Fernando, Binura Fernando and Chamika Karunaratne all in the squad. Perera thinks it'll take a while before he has well-drilled and reliable death bowlers in his ranks.
"For a while we haven't had good death bowling, so we need to develop people for that. Just because you get thrown in at the death, doesn't mean you'll get it right straightaway. It's when you get hit around by batsmen that you get used to bowling at the death. You can't just expect them to bowl a perfect five overs. They need experience.
"We haven't given consistent opportunities, even though the last 10 overs is one of the most important periods of the game. We need to give those opportunities, and if they get hit, they need to learn something from that experience. What I'm hoping to do is back the bowlers."