COLOMBO: A pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and its 23 centrally contracted players threatens to disrupt a two-Test series against Bangladesh, which is due to commence in Galle on Friday.
The players’ contracts expired at the end of February and they told SLC officials they would not sign new ones by Saturday’s deadline, SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said.
He said the SLC had told the players they were “prepared to pay them 67 percent of the total earnings” and that unless they signed the contracts they would not be selected to play in the series against Bangladesh.
A meeting yesterday between senior players and the selection committee ended with conflicting reports of its outcome.
Ranatunga said the SLC had given the players a new ultimatum.
“The (next) selection committee meeting is scheduled for Monday 10 a.m. and by that time if they have not returned the signed contracts they would not be selected to play in the series against Bangladesh,” Ranatunga said.
A senior player who spoke on condition of anonymity said the players had not demanded a pay hike but were opposing SLC’s move to cut their terms.
Jayasuriya, however, said the dispute had been settled.
“The matter is resolved for sure. (The) players through Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal agreed to sign the contracts,” he told reporters without elaborating on details.
A similar pay dispute threatened to derail last year’s Sri Lanka Premier League after the players said they would pull out of the tournament.
In the latest dispute, Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said the SLC would select a whole new team if the players did not sign the contracts.
“The players are demanding 75 percent of the total revenue and if that is to be paid Sri Lanka Cricket will have to obtain a loan of 600 million rupees ($4.70m),” Aluthgamage said.
In 2009, Bangladesh won two Test matches in the Caribbean after West Indies players staged a strike over pay.
Recently, Angelo Mathews has been named as Sri Lanka’s Test and one-day international captain for the rest of 2013.
The 25-year-old succeeds Mahela Jayawardene, who recently nominated Mathews to replace him.
Sri Lanka will also play three one-day internationals and one T20 international in Bangladesh.