Colombo: Sri Lanka's chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya has stepped in to resolve the contact deadlock between players and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) which has rocked the nation since Saturday. The former allrounder held a meeting with a few concerned players on Sunday and indicated that they had agreed to bring the "standoff to a close" and hold further discussions with the board on the key points which led to the row.
"The players have decided to put their country first and sign the original contract. Once they sign, they will be considered for selection for the Bangladesh series," Jayasuriya was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo after the meeting. However, SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga was reluctant to concede that the dispute has been sorted out. "What I've heard from Sanath is that the players will sign, but a full resolution hasn't been reached. In the meantime when the ICC events come, the players will talk to the SLC what they are going to do about the players' guarantee money," he told the website.
Player contracts expired on February 28, and all 60 players who were offered contracts refused to sign before the March 2 deadline prescribed by the board due to the various clauses stipulated in the contact. SLC's refusal to pay 25% of their earnings from ICC events, as they have done since 2003, is deemed as the major issue behind the discontentment among Sri Lanka players. Last year SLC had attempted to reduce the amount they paid to players from ICC events to 20%, saying the board bore administrative costs on the gross payment made by the ICC.
Other issues which led to the dispute include the board's move to freeze payment to cricketers taking part in the IPL for as long as he is with his IPL team and the scrapping of a convention that allowed players' wives to travel on one tour a year on SLC's money.
After the players refused to sign the contract, SLC freezed out 23 players and told its selectors to not consider these cricketers for any international cricket, including the Bangladesh series, until they agree to their new contract terms. SLC president Upali Dharmadasa had said, "We're going to stick to our guns. They will not be getting any facilities that Sri Lanka Cricket has been offering them, including, physios, masseurs and coaches. They can't come for practice at our venues."
The selection panel was expected to name a squad for the first Test against Bangladesh on Sunday but delayed the announcement until after Jayasuriya had met with the players. Kumar Sangakkara was surprisingly omitted from the side playing a three-day tour match against Bangladesh as a direct result of the disagreement between SLC and players.