By Channaka de Silva
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) issued an ultimatum to all national cricketers to sign their annual contracts by tomorrow (Sunday) morning and have warned them that unless they sign the contracts for the next year before the deadline, a totally new team made up of fresh faces who will sign contracts will be picked to face Bangladesh in the home Test series starting on Friday in Galle.
SLC top officials who met the 23 national players tonight at SLC headquarters at a crisis meeting aimed at resolving the current dispute have informed the players that they will not change their stance under any circumstances and have re-iterated that none of the players who do not sign the contracts will be considered for selection.
National selectors headed by Sanath Jayasuriya will meet at Matara on Sunday and will only consider players who have given written consent to sign the annual contracts under present terms without any amendments.
As exclusively revealed by Daily Mirror on Saturday morning, players had earlier refused to sign the contracts as they did not agree to four points in the offered contracts, and none of the 60 players who had been offered contracts had signed the documents by Saturday which was the initial deadline given by SLC for the players.
“We explained our position to the cricketers at the meeting. Though we have scrapped certain allowances of national players, we still pay the players more than any other country. So, we cannot agree to any of the player demands. We told them that unless they agree to sign the new contracts, they will not be considered for Test selection” SLC Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga told “Daily Mirror”.
According to Ranatunga, SLC had been paying the 23 national players an unbelievable 79 percent of SLC’s total annual income till this year. “Even with the measures we have taken when we drafted this year’s contracts, we are still paying 67 percent of the total SLC annual income to the 23 players” Ranatunga said.
He said that they presented all figures including SLC income to the players and explained the matter. No other cricket board pays players more than 25 percent of their annual income, added Ranatunga.
This means that SLC will be left with only 33 percent of their annual income to meet all other expenses such as to pay the other 37 contracted players, pay salaries of staff, pay the clubs, carry out cricket development etc. SLC also provides the players all facilities such as medical and training facilities. Players also get support of best of coaches secured and paid by SLC.
Tonight’s urgent meeting summoned by SLC started at 6.30 p.m. and the SLC was represented by President Upali Dharmadasa, Secretary Ranatunga, Vice President Asanga Seneviratne and Assistant Secretary Hirantha Perera. The officials had left the discussion at 7.30 p.m. and the players remained in the SLC headquarters to have their own discussion and decide on the immediate action.
All national players including seniors Kumar Sangakkara, Tillekaratne Dilshan, Tilan Samaraweera, Lasith Malinga had attended the meeting tonight. Mahela Jayawardene who is in Thailand on a private visit was only top player absent.