Player contract becomes a contentious issue ahead of Indian series 

Saturday, 3 July 2021 00:10 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Roshen Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama and Minod Bhanuka, three players who broke away from the 38 and have signed contracts with SLC



  • Lankan captaincy and squad for Indian series after tomorrow’s ODI v England
  • Chief selector says may have to pick second-string squad if dispute remains unresolved

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

Kusal Perera, will he retain the white ball captaincy for the series against India?



With the white-ball cricket series against India commencing on 13 July, the players’ annual contract issue is bound to surface again.

The 24 players who left for England only signed a voluntary declaration form and not the annual contract or the tour contract that was offered to them by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

The players are due to arrive by 5 June and the question of the contract is certain to rise before the start of the Indian series. Overall there are 38 players who have so far refused to sign the annual contracts.

The 38 players’ stand on the new annual performance-based contract was they wanted transparency on the new model and how each of them has been evaluated. The delay in submitting this information led to the players leaving for England without signing any contracts.

However, a written letter was issued by SLC to the players, stating that when they arrive back in Sri Lanka after the England tour, that each and every player, upon a request, would be released with their respective player evaluations in writing.

SLC CEO Ashley de Silva stated: “Whoever had requested for the information we have shared that with the players who are in England as well as those who are at home. Not all 24 players who went to England had made a request for the information.”

Although the evaluations have been disclosed, some players may still have concerns and grey areas to further clarify. In that context whether a final decision on the annual contracts could be reached between the SLC and the players before the start of the Indian series remains to be seen. In fact, the SLC had unofficially told them that their concerns will be addressed.

“With SLC having given the required information to the respective players, the ball is in their courts to sign the contracts. Whether the required information needs any amendments is left to the players to let SLC know,” said de Silva.

No more voluntary declarations

In the event of the issue not being resolved before the Indian series how will the SLC get about hosting it?

“The Executive Committee on the advice of the Technical and Advisory Committee will have to decide whether the players will have to sign a tour contract. Probably that is the only option left because we are not going ahead with voluntary declaration forms,” said de Silva. “We will not want to go ahead with any voluntary declaration forms in the future. It was the first time a team had left overseas signing such a document.”

Having turned down the offer to sign a tour contract for the England tour, it is most likely that the players will adopt the same stance for the Indian series as well, unless the annual contract issue is resolved before that.

In the interim, SLC has intimidated with the press announcement made on Thursday that they have signed 39 players on contract categories of ‘Senior’, ‘A’ team and Emerging and have them training in separate groups in Dambulla and Colombo and said these players will be available for selection for the upcoming tours. This includes three players from the 38 who have taken a stand on the annual contract namely Roshen Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama and Minod Bhanuka.

It is reliably learnt that these three players have gone and signed the tour contract after being given ultimatums and new players who didn’t have anything for them also took the opportunity.

The big question is what stance the SLC is going to take if the contract issue is not resolved before the Indian series. Would they risk playing a second-string Sri Lanka team against an Indian side which is also a virtual second side with the core players in England to play a five-Test series?

Chief selector on selection

Chairman of Selectors Pramodya Wickramasinghe said that if the players say they cannot sign the contract before the Indian series, the next option left to him and his selectors is to pick players from the 39 contracted players.

“These players are currently practising and playing matches and we will consider them for selection for the Indian series. We have still not selected the squad for the series with India, we will do that after Sunday’s third and final ODI against England,” said Wickramasinghe.

On the captaincy, Wickramasinghe said that it will be decided after Sunday’s ODI. “There won’t be a problem in selecting a captain because once we select the squad we can pick a captain from it. Romesh Kaluwitharana who is the selector on tour in England has a big role to play in this. We have to speak to him as well as the coaching staff, SLC and Technical and Advisory Committee and take a decision on how we should move forward.”

Kusal Perera was named captain of Sri Lanka’s ODI side to Bangladesh where they lost the series 1-2 and asked to continue for the ongoing England tour as well where Sri Lanka has lost the T20I series 0-3 and the three-match ODI series where they trail 0-2.