Colombo: The issue of player versus board has emerged as a major impediment ahead of the upcoming Sri Lanka v Bangladesh series after Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) locked out 23 of the country's leading cricketers over another contracts dispute. On Saturday, SLC instructed the national selectors not to pick any of the 23 top players for the Bangladesh series starting March 8 unless they agree to signing central contracts.
The board and players had met on Saturday to attempt to break the deadlock, but that meeting ended with 60 players refusing to agree to SLC's terms. These players had been offered contracts this week with a deadline of March 2, but SLC's refusal to pay 25% of their earnings from ICC events as well as the inclusion of new clauses in contracts, such as a non-pay agreement with IPL players, is believed to be the reason for the impasse. Per the new clause, any Sri Lankan player who signs with an IPL franchise a week before the sixth edition starts on April 3 and stays on for the duration of IPL 6, will lose 16.4% of his yearly salary from SLC. This is reported to be a major bone of contention with the players.
"We can only select players who have contracts with SLC," SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga, was quoted as saying by Daily Mirror. "If the players who had been offered contracts refuse to sign it on time, then we will have to take a serious decision. We might be forced to select some other players for the Bangladesh tour."
SLC has instructed the national selectors not to pick any player yet to sign a central contract, and Kumar Sangakkara has been removed from the tour match.
Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara has been ruled out of the three-day tour match against the Bangladeshis starting Sunday, denying him a first shot at competitive cricket since he recovered from a broken finger sustained in Australia last year.
Of the 60 players, 48 had submitted a signed letter to SCL stating that Sri Lankan Cricketers' Association vice-president Ken de Alwis negotiate the terms and conditions, but this was rejected by the home board. "SLC Ex-Co has taken an official decision not to recognise the Cricketers' Association," said Ranatunga. "We have no business with the officials of a purported Association because we deal directly with players."
This is the latest in a series of deadlocks between the players and SLC. In 2012, the players and board were locked in nearly five months of negations over contracts following SLC's failure to play the players for almost eight months following the 2011 World Cup. The buildup to the inaugural Sri Lanka Premier League had seen a boycott threatened from the top players, but an agreement was reached in July 2012.