Sri Lanka Cricket has instructed its selectors to not consider any player who is yet to sign a central contract with the board. This meant that upto 23 of its top players, including Kumar Sangakkara, the former captain, Angelo Mathews, the Test captain, and Dinesh Chandimal, the Twenty20I captain, could miss out on selection for the series against Bangladesh that begins on Friday. The immediate fall out of the decision was that Sangakkara was ruled out of playing in a three-day practice match that would have signaled his return to competitive cricket after suffering a broken finger in Australia late last year. The move comes after the board held a series of meetings with the players, which ended with disagreement between both parties.
"We can only select players who have contracts with SLC," Nishantha Ranatunga, secretary of the SLC was quoted as saying by Daily Mirror. "If the players who had been offered contracts refuse to sign it on time, then we will have to take a serious decision. We might be forced to select some other players for the Bangladesh tour."
It is understood that the top players expressed reservation over the inclusion of new clauses in the contracts, including a non-pay agreement with players contracted to various Indian Premier League franchises, which the players feel is a move to settle scores with the BCCI, who incidentally refused to release their players for the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL). Interestingly, SLC has not named any other domestic leagues such as the Australia's Big Bash League under the clause.
The players were also unhappy about the board not meeting its commitment of sharing 25 percent of revenues from ICC events guaranteed to all members of the squad, which was a part of the earlier agreement.
A total of 48 out of the 60 players who have been offered central contracts jointly signed a letter stating that the appointment of Ken de Alwis, the vice president of the Sri Lankan Cricketers' Association, to negotiate the terms and conditions. But, the SLC categorically rejected the letter, calling the body an unofficial entity.
"SLC Ex-Co has taken an official decision not to recognise the Cricketers' Association," said Ranatunga, ironically a former CEO of the Cricketers' Association. "We have no business with the officials of a purported Association because we deal directly with players."
Earlier in February, SLC banned player agents from acting as mediators after the board felt it was detrimental to the game.
This is incidentally the second row between the two parties in the last seven months. The Sri Lankan players were at loggerheads with the board over contracts in July 2012. The issues the players had with the original contracts that SLC had offered became public when Mahela Jayawardene, the then captain, said that the Sri Lankan players would not take part in the SLPL if the central contracts were not settled.
The central contracts for 2012 too were to be signed before March 31, 2012 but the signing was delayed because the Sri Lanka Cricketers Association and SLC could not agree to all the terms and conditions on the new contracts. As a result the players were forced to play without central contracts and salaries for four months.