Sri Lanka top players locked in bitter pay dispute with board

Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews have refused to sign central contracts citing their dissatisfaction with the remuneration offered by the island nation’s cricket board.

A statement from the attorney representing nearly all the top Sri Lankan players said the remuneration proposed is one-third of what some other cricket-playing countries offer to their players, according to a Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) report.

If not sorted in time, the dispute could affect Sri Lanka’s bilateral series with India in July, where six white-ball matches are expected to fill the coffers of the cash-strapped Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

The SLC said this week that it had offered 24 of its leading players contracts under four categories and that they had been given a deadline until June 3 to sign on the dotted line. Only six players fall under the highest Category A, with their annual pay ranging between $70,000 and $100,000. Batsman Dhananjaya de Silva draws the highest – $100,000 – with the rest receiving $70,000-80,000 each.

In comparison, India’s centrally contracted players in the lowest category earn a retainership fee of around $137,000 or ₹1 crore annually.

The Sri Lankan players said in a joint statement that they were “shocked and dismayed” by the SLC’s decision to go public with the specific payment details of players. “These disclosures amount to a grave security concern to each and every player,” they said in the statement.

Aravinda de Silva, the chairman of the Cricket Advisory Committee of the SLC, told reporters that the board was forced to make a hard decision based on the past performances of the players. “We wanted to have key performance indicators for the players so that we could evaluate them,” de Silva said, adding that the new pay scheme was incentive-based.

The players, however, refused to take the entire blame for Sri Lanka’s poor performances in recent years and maintained that the administrators and local structure were contributing factors to the country’s decline in the international rankings.