Sri Lankan cricketers will go to England as planned on Tuesday (8) after Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) took a step back and agreed to share details of the grading system adopted to assign national contracts.
Consequently, the players agreed to sign the voluntary declaration form, a mandatory requirement before touring.
The England tour was in serious doubt up until Monday (7) evening after players refused to enter into any form of contract—tour or central—or even sign the voluntary tour declaration form until the Board provides clarity over the points system.
The voluntary declaration binds them to abide by rules and regulations including the player’s code of conduct, anti-corruption code and anti-doping code.
It also allows the Board to use player images commercially during the tour.
The players had even refused to grant image rights to the Board and also demanded rights to speak to media on tour.
Board officials who met the players on Monday morning in a bid to resolve the matter threatened to suspend them for three years if they didn’t sign the tour declaration.
They were given till 3.00pm.
“We were very clear in our demand,” a player said, on the condition of anonymity.
“We are not happy with how the grading has been done and this is why we asked them to reveal how the points were tabulated. This is all we wanted. Had they provided those none of this would have happened.”
“We were ready to face any consequences as we believe we have a legitimate right to know how the grading was carried out,” he explained.
The players were resisting SLC's new performance-based annual contracts scheme, which they believe lacks transparency and does not adequately compensate senior players.
Joining the 24 protestors are 14 others including Avishka Fernando, Roshen Silva and Nuwan Pradeep who were not considered for any form of contract despite performing well at national and international level during the period in consideration.
“We have reached a settlement,” a Board official said.
“We will address the core issue when they return from England.”
The new contract scheme sees points being allocated on five attributes–performance, fitness, leadership, professionalism, and future potential and adaptability.
Performance during the last two years carries 50 points while 20 points are given for fitness.
The other three attributes carry ten marks each.
The allocation was done by the coach, the three selectors and the physical performance manager.
The information is restricted to those involved in the grading process.
But players unhappy about how they were slotted believe they have a right to know every detail of how their points were tabulated.
They wanted performance and fitness to be the only criteria.
They argue that failure to disclose such information creates disharmony, raises reasonable concerns in respect of favouritism, and casts doubt as to the validity of the entire process.
Their decision to reject any form of contract comes three days after discussions between cricket officials and players failed to bear fruit.
SLC's new scheme, however, also takes into account leadership, professionalism and future performance/adaptability.
Unlike the previous year, the annual contracts were offered to only 24 players.
They are also now suggesting that some compensation be given to a wider group of players who have missed out on national contracts.
The new contracts scheme had been drawn up by the technical committee headed by Aravinda de Silva and SLC's new director of cricket Tom Moody.
Players who have refused to sign the tour contract: Kusal Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews, Dananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Suranga Lakmal, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lasith Embuldeniya, Pathum Nissanka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando, Isuru Udana, Oshada Fernando, Ramesh Mendis, Lahiru Kumara, Danushka Gunathilaka, Ashen Bandara, Akila Dananjaya, Chamika Karunaratne, Asitha Fernando, Binura Fernando, Shiran Fernando, Avishka Fernando, Ishan Jayaratne, Charith Asalanka, Dananjaya Lakshan, Nuwan Pradeep, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Kamil Mishara, Praveen Jayawickrama, Roshen Silva, Minod Bhanuka