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    Dilshan praises Smith role over salaries

    Benoni: Sri Lanka skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan thanked South Africa counterpart Graeme Smith on Wednesday amid signs that most of the salaries owed to the touring team will be paid this week.

    Heavily indebted Sri Lanka Cricket have been unable to pay national players since the country finished runners-up to fellow co-hosts India in the World Cup last April. Sports minister Mahindanda Altuthgamage promised in Colombo on Tuesday that 65 per cent of the outstanding salaries would be paid within three days and the rest by January.

    "Thanks to Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers for assisting us by making statements to the International Cricket Council (ICC)," Dilshan said at a pre-tour media conference in this eastern Johannesburg suburb. Sri Lanka play a three-day warm-up game against a South African Invitation XI at Willowmoore Park here from Friday before tackling the Proteas in a three-Test and five-ODI series.

    Dilshan denied the outstanding salaries issue was behind recent 1-0 Test series losses to England, Australia and Pakistan, saying the results were not an accurate reflection of performances.

    "We are here to play cricket. Everyone in the team wants to play cricket and not worry about payments. If we use this warm-up match properly, it will help us before the first Test," he said. "It will not be easy as South Africa have been playing good cricket for a few years and we cannot afford any mistakes. We must give 100 per cent commitment with everyone putting their hands up."

    Sri Lanka play Tests at Centurion (Dec 15-19), Durban (Dec 26-30) and Cape Town (Jan 3-7) before the one-day games between January 11 and 22 in Paarl, East London, Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Johannesburg.