Cricketers pay for administrators' blunders

By Hilal Suhaib | March 4, 2013

PhotoSri Lanka's sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage and the island's cricket board officials have attempted to justify a reduction in the players' wages by stating that a majority of SLC's earnings goes towards paying the players. They however should be reminded that it is an important part of their job to ensure that the board finds ways to generate more revenue to revive SLC finances after the 2011 World Cup calamity, but their solution has been to take away a significant portion of earnings from the players — the primary source of what little money the board still makes.

For a team that has featured in a number of World Cup finals, Sri Lankan players are still some of the lowest paid amongst the top teams.

It is due to budget overruns during World Cup 2011 stadium construction that the board is in such a destitute state now, but the administrators responsible for the blunders that left SLC in millions of dollars in debt have not been held responsible. Some of the administrators directly responsible continue to contest in SLC elections and even still hold positions within the board, while enjoying various perks and allowances.

The recent standoff between the players and SLC saw the cricketers united in their stand against the board. It is after all the players who bring in the money, yet they are forced to pay the price for board officials' blunders. It is therefore not surprising that they stood united in the face of such injustice.

There have been a number of issues pertaining to the new contracts, but the players are most affected by two: the withholding of fees paid to them by the ICC for the use of their images during ICC tournaments and SLC's decision to dock their wages for their time at the IPL.

For cricketers who do not play in the IPL, like Rangana Herath for example, losing ICC fees may not seem so trivial, which is perhaps why many cricketers were reluctant to sign the new contracts.

The recent decision to not recognise the Sri Lanka Cricketers' Association, as well as players' agents and managers, was enforced conveniently in time for the signing of contracts, leaving the players without the ability to have their contracts explained to them by a representative of their choosing.

The attitude displayed by officials during the crisis was also pathetic. It should not be forgotten that Kumar Sangakkara was not allowed to play in the three-day warm-up match against Bangladesh, which was to be Sangakkara's comeback game after injury. The entire fiasco appeared to be a cunning strategy designed to corner the players and force them into complying.

"It looks like SLC had worked for some time towards these negotiations, and had done a lot to secure a powerful bargaining position," Andrew Fidel Fernando, ESPNCricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent, told Island Cricket. "The decision not to recognise player managers and players' associations has helped tilt the scales in their favour, for example.

"Having done all that, they had clearly come up with an uncompromising hard-line strategy, and they rolled that out when the players refused to sign.

"I think the end result is a reflection of how much leverage the board had."

The Sri Lankan newspaper Daily Mirror first broke the story on the contract crisis. The paper's sports editor Channaka de Silva said SLC could have resolved the issue much earlier, and not just prior to the start of a Test series.

"There were very clear signs of this happening," de Silva told Island Cricket. "SLC should have sorted this out early rather than waiting until the last minute."

"Washing dirty linen in public is not a creditable thing for a corporate organisation," he added. "It also raises doubts if SLC was purposely waiting until the last minute to gain an advantage over players."

He added that SLC's current financial state has left the board with no option other than to tap into the players' earnings.

"I heard they could only spend two percent on school cricket due to cash problems," de Silva said.

With the Test series against Bangladesh just days away, and SLC refusing to select players who had not signed contracts, the players have agreed to compromise. It is learned that they have agreed to sign their contracts for this year, but they hope to voice their concerns again when contracts are up for renewal.

Speaking to ESPNCricinfo, SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga confirmed that the players had indeed agreed to sign the new contracts, but admitted that "a full resolution hasn't been reached."

© Island Cricket


Neutral's picture
Member since:
28 February 2011
Last activity:
4 years 32 weeks

Great article Hilal, makes a lot of sense.

SLC has hit an all time low.

This is not the last we have heard about this, there will be a revolt, maybe not now but my gut feeling is that there will be an explosion and I have a feeling that it will be before a major tournament possibly the Champions League this year.

Hatem's picture
Member since:
23 June 2009
Last activity:
4 years 32 weeks

I know we have our cricket at stake, but they shouldn't sign if its not going to benefit them or they are trying to use what is due to them to pay back debts. Not letting Sanga play the game is the lowest possible thing they could do.

Anonymous's picture

It's a shame that players had to go through this. If the officials who made decisions had guts to say politicians that we don't need a ground in Hambanthota,players wouldn't have these troubles. Earnings from ICC events could have used as a motivation to the players and let them get rewarded for their efforts. Hope Jaya can fix this who freshly comes off the players shoes.

UppercuT's picture
Member since:
19 October 2011
Last activity:
1 year 8 weeks

Good points made by Hilal. Not letting Sanga playing the tour game was a senseless decision.

However to give due credit to the devil, SLC played this situation strategywise VERY WELL! which is something SLC dumba**es are NOT known for! (players were probably worried abt their IPL future, if or when SLC withdraw the NOCs!)

Let's hope they use same kind of strategic brilliance when making broadcasting/sponsorship deals!

ricardo de f's picture

what a shameless bunch of officials .. firstly they are making money out of the cricketers who are playing in the IPL(by the way of commissions) and they are also penalizing them for taking part in the same... what a f*****g joke.. this inabilty to find the balance between players and the "powers that be" is mainly due to the "jealousy factor" that exists (specially)among officials because of the earning power of the cricketers on the whole and the ''STARS'' in particular..MEAN LITTLE PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN GIVEN POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY..and unfortunately at the end of their "tenure" they will become "meaner" still .of course aided and abetted by some of the former stars that still go on about how "we travelled by bus , we were only paid rs 250 /- per match" ect. and some nonsensical reporters (whose favourites can do wrong btw) who BUTT in and say "even without this money they can easily live comfortably in sri lanka"... MEAN LITTLE PEOPLE IN POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY THAT ARE OVER COME BY JEALOUSY AND ENVY.... wither thou even further mother lanka..

Athula's picture

Proud to be a Sri Lankan. Why do we still have people in cricket governing body who never played real Cricket or any sport at all, if they are not qualified in sports at least they should be able to sponsor the activities to some extent financially or otherwise.

Sanki8OH8's picture
Member since:
27 March 2010
Last activity:
3 years 44 weeks

Nishantha Ranathunga on the other hand enjoys the same benefits he did while he and his friends pulled SLC to this mess!!

Ravana's picture
Member since:
8 July 2010
Last activity:
6 weeks 2 days

Come out and name those you mean Hilal and give us evidence. Otherwise this is simply mud slinging and it is unfair to tar everybody with the same brush.

Dias's picture
Member since:
9 November 2012
Last activity:
14 weeks 3 days

Have you been living under Arjuna's belly Ravana? The whole world knows but you want "evidence"? Read the sports section of the news papers from the last two years.

Marcian's picture
Member since:
8 December 2010
Last activity:
1 year 14 weeks

I couldn't agree more, Hilal. My gut feeling is that its not over, only a temporary lull. SLC may have won the battle, but stands to lose the war in the end. Things may get sticky once again in June. Perhaps we may see a few early retirements.

And what an appalling way to treat the most successful batsman (in Tests)for SL. First he was told he can play since its only a warm-up match and travelled to Matara on the eve of the match to learn in the morning that he cant play. All those petty-minded, conniving, bum sucking, white-collar thieves at SLC need to be taught a good bloody lesson.

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