Sri Lankan cricket on Sunday headed towards a major crisis with the Board deciding to dump 23 of its top players from international cricket until they sign on the contentious contract terms, which also cast a shadow on their participation in the IPL starting next month.
Less than a week before the start of the home series against Bangladesh, the SLC has told its selectors not to consider those cricketers for any international cricket, till the contract deadlock is resolved.
The decision was taken after the SLC officials met the revolting players who had refused to sign the new contract terms. Player contracts expired on February 28 and they were to sign them before March 2 deadline prescribed by the Board.
“We spoke to all of the players present at the meeting, and gave our viewpoints and they also gave their points,” SLC President Upali Dharmadasa was quoted as saying by ‘ESPNcricinfo.’
“We have said, ‘Nothing doing. We’re going to stick to our guns.’ It ended like that. 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 major point of the dispute in the new contracts is SLC’s refusal to pay the players 25 per cent of the Board’s earnings from ICC events, as they have done since 2003. This payment is to compensate players for their images being used by the ICC and its sponsors to promote the tournament as well as during the event.
Other points of contention include the Board’s move to freeze payment to cricketers taking part in the IPL for as long as the player is with his IPL team, a clause tying pay to team performance.
Under the new clause, if a Sri Lanka cricketer joins his IPL team a week before the 2013 tournament begins, and remains with the team until the final on May 26, he will lose 16.4 per cent of his annual salary from SLC.
SLC Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said there was a possibility the players could find themselves unable to play in the IPL.
“We can issue NOCs. We can withdraw NOCs. But we have not taken any decision to that effect so far.”
He said he expected the players to sign before complications around the IPL arise.
“I don’t think we will get into that kind of a problem because I am confident the players will sign. We will see how it goes,” he said. The IPL begins on April 3.
Both the players and the SLC stand to lose if the IPL participation is affected as the Board receives 10 per cent of each player’s IPL pay for providing them No Objection Certificates to play in the league.
SLC had even agreed to play two Tests less in the West Indies, effectively to accommodate the IPL’s full schedule this year.
Meanwhile, chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya said that he would meet the locked-out players to try and resolve the issue. It is learnt that Jayasuriya personally set up the meeting with the players after informing Board officials.
Jayasuriya’s selection panel was due to name a squad for the first Test against Bangladesh this evening, but has delayed the announcement until after the meeting.