Sri Lanka name squad for England tour as pay row remains unresolved

Published June 9, 2021
In this file photo, Sri Lankan cricketers warm up during a training session at the Sydney Cricket Ground. —AFP/File
In this file photo, Sri Lankan cricketers warm up during a training session at the Sydney Cricket Ground. —AFP/File

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s cricket board on Tuesday named a 24-member squad led by Kusal Perera for the six-match limited overs series in England even as a pay dispute remained unresolved.

The Sri Lankan squad will leave early Wednesday to play three One-day Intern­at­ionals and three Twenty20 Internationals.

Official sources said the players have refused a performance-based pay scheme which will see some of them lose up to 40 percent of their salaries, but agreed to continue negotiations after the England tour.

The players have been threatened with bans of up to three years if they did not play.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has cut fees for 24 national players by up to 40 percent in new performance-based contracts, which the players have rejected.

Both sides failed to conclude their talks on the new scheme — which would mean drastic pay cuts for some senior players — by a weekend deadline set by SLC.

“Players have agreed to abide by the conditions of the board for the England tour,” a SLC official said, asking not to be named.

The official said Sri Lanka would have had to pay huge penalties to the England Cricket Board if the tour was cancelled due to the pay issue.

A lawyer representing the cricketers reiterated at the weekend they did not agree with the new pay scheme.

Under the proposed structure, former skipper Angelo Mathews and current Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne would suffer the biggest cuts.

Mathews’ annual fee would fall from $130,000 a year to $80,000, while Karunaratne was offered $70,000, a drop of $30,000.

When the new pay plan was unveiled last month, players said it was ‘non-transparent’ and urged SLC to not hold them at ‘gunpoint’.

The board has said players could earn more under the new performance-based scheme, formulated with the help of former skipper Aravinda de Silva and ex-Australia all-rounder Tom Moody.

The Australian was hired in March as the Sri Lankan board’s director of cricket to prepare the team for the next World Cup.

The national players were offered annual contracts with all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva and wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella getting the highest remuneration of $100,000 each. However, both have also rejected the new pay deal, according to their lawyer.

The SLC officials said the base fees in the new contracts were in addition to payments for each match as well as allowances for travel outside Colombo.

The players, including Karunaratne and Perera, had refused to sign new contracts.

Squad: Kusal Perera (captain), Kusal Mendis (vice-captain), Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Pathum Nissanka, Niroshan Dickwella, Dhananjaya de Silva, Oshada Fernando, Charith Asalanka, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Ishan Jayaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Isuru Udana, Asitha Fernando, Nuwan Pradeep, Binura Fernando, Shiran Fernando, Lakshan Sandakan, Akila Dananjaya, Praveen Jayawickrama.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2021

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