Uncertainty looms large over Sri Lanka's England tour as players refuse to sign contracts

Uncertainty looms large over Sri Lanka’s England tour as players refuse to sign contracts

The Sri Lankan team is set to fly to England on Wednesday (June 9), and the number of players denying to sign the tour contract has grown to 38.

Sri Lanka Team
Sri Lanka Team. (Photo Source: Twitter)

A cloud of uncertainty is hovering over Sri Lanka’s tour of England after a long list of players, including many of the potential choices for the series, have denied signing the tour contracts offered by Sri Lanka Cricket.

Sri Lankan cricketers have been without a central contract ever since last October when the annual contract term ended. Ever since then, the team has played under temporary tour contracts – duly signed before the start of every series. However, disputes surrounding SLC’s new annual contracts – starkly different from the old ones – which significantly cuts down the players’ salaries and offers incentives based on performance have led to a deadlock between the players and the cricket board.

Notably, the Sri Lankan board had devised a new contract scheme of four categories – A to D – further divided into sub-categories (A1, A2, A3, so on till D3). The new scheme has drastically reduced the base salaries of the players, with an A1, A2 and A3 contract ensuring $ 100,000, $80,000 and $70,000 respectively. The subsequent slabs (B1 to D3) successively decrease by $5000 each, with the lowest slab of D1, D2, and D3 providing 35, 30, and 25 thousand dollars respectively.

The sub-category for each player is supposedly ascertained by a new formula, which gives 50% weightage to the performance of a player since 2019, 20% to the players’ fitness and the remaining 10% to leadership, professionalism and other qualities. The SLC plans to allocate each player into the abovementioned sub-categories based on subjective criteria, which has created severe unrest amongst players, who have demanded their respective scores based on the new formula. Earlier last month, a disappointed group of senior players threatened the board to retire early  in response to the new system.

“Despite the players’ requests from the Management Committee for information regarding the manner in which points were allocated in respect of the categorisation, none of the players have been provided with their individual assessment sheets setting out how points were awarded under the criteria of performance, fitness, leadership and professionalism,” a statement presented from attorney Nishan Sydney Premathiratne on behalf of 24 cricketers not in agreement to sign England’s tour contract, had said earlier.

Players call out SLC for lack of transparency

The Sri Lankan team is set to fly to England on Wednesday (June 9), and the number of players denying to sign the tour contract has grown to 38, with 14 players joining their 24 teammates. “Because of the problems with the transparency of the ratings system devised by SLC, the players will not sign the [tour contract],” the release signed by 38 top players said.

“The tour contract also refers to matters of the annual [main] contract for 2021, which is yet unsigned,” he said. “In the event, the annual contract is not settled and a dispute is pending, the validity of the tour contract referring to an unsigned contract is also an issue.”

The players’ demand from the board is to make the system transparent, reveal complete details of how it plans to assess the players, and draw new contracts based on only performance and fitness, excluding other subjective factors such as leadership, professionalism, adaptability etc.

Following players have denied signing England’s tour contract:

Kusal Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews, Dananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Suranga Lakmal, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lasith Embuldeniya, Pathum Nissanka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando, Isuru Udana, Oshada Fernando, Ramesh Mendis, Lahiru Kumara, Danushka Gunathilaka, Ashen Bandara, Akila Dananjaya, Chamika Karunaratne, Asitha Fernando, Binura Fernando, Shiran Fernando, Avishka Fernando, Ishan Jayaratne, Charith Asalanka, Dananjaya Lakshan, Nuwan Pradeep, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Kamil Mishara, Praveen Jayawickrama, Roshen Silva, Minod Bhanuka