Don’t hold us at gunpoint to sign contracts, say Lankan cricketers 

Saturday, 22 May 2021 00:19 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

 Sri Lankan cricketers are up in arms against the new contracts handed to them by SLC



  • Newly elected SLC office-bearers promise justice

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

The 24 national cricketers who have been offered annual contracts by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have said in a letter through their lawyer Nishan Sydney Premathiratne that they are not in agreement to sign “unfair and non-transparent contracts” and urged the sport’s controlling body not to hold the players at gunpoint or give them ultimatums.

They have further stated that unlike in other nations when disputes arise and result in players seeking other avenues by way of franchise cricket, they (the Sri Lankan players) will continue to be readily available to play and be selected for Sri Lanka.

The Management Committee of SLC that was administering cricket for six weeks till the elections on Thursday had in consultation with the Cricket Advisory Committee drawn up a new payment scheme which has not met with the approval of the national cricketers. The cricketers have been given time till 3 June to sign their new contracts.

SLC secretary Mohan de Silva said that the newly elected body would have a look at the player dispute and in the best interest of everyone resolve it.

“The players have been discussing it so far with the Management Committee. We will have a look at what has been offered to them and try to negotiate with them and do justice to them,” said de Silva. “We must have a professional system in place and the player has a right to know. We should have a heart to heart chat individually with them. It is not proper for the Management Committee to finalise the player contracts.”

Sri Lanka team members Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Suranga Lakmal, KusaI Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis, 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 Gunathillaka, Ashen Bandara and Akila Dananjaya, through their lawyer Premathiratne, who is their official representative, made the following media release:

“At the very outset, the players are shocked and dismayed that the Management Committee of SLC, through a press conference held on 19 May, has seen it fit to release to the public specific payment details of contract fees paid to specific players in a one-sided manner, without placing the same in the context of earnings of players in other cricketing nations, the entire earnings of SLC, and also without disclosing the payments made to the officials/administrators, coaches and support staff of SLC. It is also a worrying state of affairs when an organisation embarks to effect such disclosures and attempts to do so solely in respect of one segment of its carder. The players categorically state that the conduct of the Management Committee of SLC greatly concerns the players and has affected their self-confidence and peace of mind. Furthermore, these disclosures in respect of payment amount to a grave security concern to each and every player.

“During negotiations in respect of these Annual Contracts with SLC, it has always been the position of the players that they in principle are agreeable to a proper, transparent performance-based model, where each player would be assessed and categorised on attributes of performance. However, 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. The Management Committee, the coach and the selectors have, for reasons unknown to the players, to date, unreasonably failed and refused to disclose such information. 

“All national players, in unison, are of the view that the players should be made aware of the assessment scores of each player in order to ensure transparency of the categorisation process. This will afford the players an opportunity to ascertain the manner in which they have been categorised and to enable each player the opportunity to address their weaknesses. Failure to disclose such information creates disharmony, raises reasonable concerns in respect of bias/favouritism, and casts doubt as to the validity of the entire process.

“The players are also surprised that amidst ongoing negotiations and in the circumstances where the formulation of contracts had not been formally concluded, the Management Committee of SLC, in an unreasonable hurry, attempted to place hard copies of the Annual Contracts before the players to obtain their signature a few hours before the players were to depart to Bangladesh for the ODI series. At this juncture, the players’ concerns had not been addressed by SLC and furthermore, the legal provisions of the contracts had not yet been formalised.

“It is also noteworthy that as per the information received from FICA (Federation of International Cricketers’ Association), the new remuneration intimated to Sri Lankan players is substantially lower (more than threefold lower) in comparison with other global cricketing nations (in respect of board earnings which are to be considered to be in par with SLC’s Earnings). It is disheartening to the players that the Management Committee, when releasing the players’ contract information, has not in any manner attempted to reconcile these facts in any way or manner. 

“FICA also confirms that the sums paid by ICC to cricketing boards have not reduced during the last year nor has a reduction been forecasted for the following year. Furthermore, FICA also confirms that players are allotted a certain percentage from the respective board’s earnings in most other global jurisdictions, and such disclosures as to board earnings are made to the players and the respective player association. SLC has, in the past, paid local and foreign coaches significant sums of money (salaries of approximately over Rs. 7 million per month), and all those facts have to be placed in context when attempting to highlight and portray payments to be made to Sri Lankan cricketers. FICA also brings to light that unlike in other global jurisdictions, players are provided with pension schemes in together jurisdictions. However, no such pension scheme has been set up in Sri Lanka.

“The players concede that Sri Lanka has dropped in international rankings in the past few years, but refuse to take the entirety of blame, as such cannot be attributed exclusively to the players when the administration and all stakeholders are also involved in the game. Decisions taken to scrap the SLPL in 2012 until last year when the SLPL was recommenced as well as the number of clubs in Sri Lanka being doubled to 24 from the initial number of 12 have all contributed. The players also believe that the provincial tournaments have been played in an ad hoc, on-and-off basis, which is also a contributing factor.

“The players are not in agreement to sign unfair and non-transparent contracts and urge SLC to not hold the players at gunpoint or give the players such ultimatums. Unlike in other nations when disputes arise and result in players seeking other avenues by way of franchise cricket, the Sri Lankan players will continue to be readily available to play and be selected for Sri Lanka. 

“Going forward, the players urge the SLC and the administrators to work on building the trust of the players, to be transparent in all matters and to fully address the concerns of players with a view to resolving the present dispute. The players, while extending their warmest wishes to the newly-elected President of SLC, are confident that cordial dialogue could commence, to resolve these concerns at the earliest opportunity.”