Contract issue affecting team ahead of Bangladesh series: SL’s Perera

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Dhaka, May 23 (IANS) Sri Lanka cricket captain Kusal Perera has said that while his teams priority is to win the three-match One-day International (OD) series against Bangladesh starting today, the ongoing stalemate over the signing of central contracts was not doing his players any good.

In a deepening crisis in Sri Lankan cricket, all 24 cricketers, who have been offered new contracts by their country’s cricket board, have refused to sign on the dotted line citing “lack of transparency in the manner in which the contract categories have been allocated”.

The players have rejected the proposed pay structure, which sees the seniors in particular take big pay cuts. The cricketers are anguished that their proposed salaries were made public by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) earlier this week.

In a statement issued on behalf of the cricketers earlier this week, attorney Nishan Sydney Premathiratne has said that the players are “not in agreement to sign unfair and non-transparent contracts and urge SLC to not hold the players at gunpoint or give the players such ultimatums”.

The players have until June 3 to sign the contracts.

“We do have concerns about the contracts,” Perera told on Saturday. “We can’t say it’s not affecting us — that would be a lie and everyone would know it’s a lie. But I’m hoping we can talk to the cricket board and resolve this fairly.

“With the contracts, we’re going to come back to Sri Lanka and discuss with the board then. But before then we are just trying to think about how we will win this series. What I’m trying to do is give the players confidence to go and do what they know how to do, because if they are fearful, they won’t get the best out of their skills.”

“Just because you get thrown in at the death, doesn’t mean you’ll get it right straightaway. It’s when you get hit around by batsmen that you get used to bowling at the death. They need experience.”

Perera added that apart from the contract row, players were also not happy with having to do fitness tests for future tours, in the middle of ongoing tours. Although all the cricketers touring Dhaka have passed fitness tests, they had to undergo another round of fitness tests in Dhaka with the upcoming tour of England in mind, and two players reportedly failed the trials.

“We did have a fitness test recently, and there are concerns among players about the fact that it was held during an ongoing series. There were two players whose fitness standards were not up to the mark. They’ll have to improve them once we get back to Sri Lanka in order to qualify for the England tour,” added Perera.