Dhananjaya de Silva
and Niroshan Dickwella
have been offered the most lucrative deals in Sri Lanka Cricket's new player contract scheme for men, which sees players take significant cuts to their base salaries. The players do, however, have more to gain via performance-based incentives, compared to previous contracts. There is also a reduction in the number of centrally contracted players from 32 to 24.
The players have not signed these contracts yet, and are understood to be negotiating with the board for better base payments. As SLC is set to have its election on Thursday, it also remains to be seen whether the new board members stand by this contract scheme.
But as it stands, the scheme seeks to reward team victories. It was largely devised by director of cricket Tom Moody
, as well as the technical committee headed by Aravinda de Silva
"A thorough review of what was being practiced around the world was taken into consideration," Moody said of the contracts. "A lot of countries are trying to find what is the right process for them. This was not pulled out of thin air. This was done after thorough research - looking at other countries and their examples of how they contract their players. We put together what we thought was the best, most effective and fair system for Sri Lanka,
The proposed contracts see the retainers of senior players hit especially hard. For example, Angelo Mathews - by far the most experienced player on the list - has been offered a contract worth $80,000 this year, which is roughly $50,000 less than his base salary had been in the last round of contracts. Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne's retainer has dropped from roughly $100,000 to $70,000 this year. Fast bowler Suranga Lakmal, meanwhile, sees a cut of roughly $35,000, with his base rate set this year at $65,000.
But there is more on offer for series wins against highly-ranked opposition. Where in the previous contracts, the team would be paid $25,000 for each Test won against top seven (according to rankings) opponents, these contracts offer $150,000 for a series win against the No. 1 ranked side, $125,000 for beating the No. 2 ranked team, $100,000 for No. 3, $80,000 for No. 4, down to $30,000 for the team ranked seventh. Sri Lanka only occasionally play three-match series - they largely play two-Test series, particularly against non-Big Three (India, Australia, England) opposition. Where the previous contracts had also seen players take financial penalties for series losses against low-ranked opposition, the proposed 2021 contracts do not recoup funds from the team.
The ODI and T20 series victory incentive scales are similarly structured, though the payouts for those are substantially lower. Test cricket has been financially prioritised. Even the match fee for a Test has gone up slightly, to $7500 per player from $7000. The ODI and T20 match fees remain where they had been, at $5000 and $4000 respectively.
Among the new players who will be offered contracts are batsmen Pathum Nissanka and Ashen Bandara, as well as allrounder Ramesh Mendis. Kusal Mendis, who had been left out of Sri Lanka's teams for all three formats, will be offered an A3 category contract - the third-most lucrative available.
Proposed contracts scheme:
A1 category ($100,000 base salary)
Dhananjaya de Silva
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf