Sri Lankan cricketers return home amid reports of row with board

July 9th, 2008 - 2:10 pm ICT by IANS  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, July 9 (IANS) Sri Lankan cricketers, who registered their first Asia Cup win overseas after beating India in the final in Lahore Sunday, returned home Wednesday morning, amid reports of row between the players and the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) over the players’ contract. The Sri Lankan cricket team led by skipper Mahela Jayawardena arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport at 8.45 a.m. from Pakistan and were offered a red carpet welcome.

Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge, SLC secretary Kagatharan Mathivanan and other cricket board officials received them at the airport. However, the SLC interim committee chief and former captain, Arjuna Ranatunga who was present at the presentation ceremony in Lahore, was conspicuous by his absence at the airport.

Briefly speaking to the reporters at the airport, Jayawardena said that the Asia Cup win in Lahore was the result of “a fantastic team work”.

“We played as a team and everybody in the team played their role well to secure this historic win,” Jayawardena said.

Meanwhile, a media report revealed Wednesday that the Sri Lankan cricketers had taken part in the Asia Cup tournament in the absence of a player contract. It said that the players put the money matters aside holding back the row with administrators to win the first Asia Cup overseas.

According to the report, none of the present Sri Lanka team members are under obligation to the Sri Lankan cricket board and are not duty bound to play for the team as they have signed no contracts to keep up with administrative requirements.

“We could have boycotted the Asia Cup but we wanted to prove a point. Now everyone knows who the wrong-doers are”, the Daily Mirror newspaper quoted a national team cricketer on condition of anonymity.

Annual player contracts, according to regulations, should have been finalised by March 31 but three months have gone by and some cricket pundits fear that the issue might trigger a crisis before the Test series against Indian starts in mid-July if the players and administrators do not find a meeting point on their respective positions.

Commenting on the issue, SLC secretary Mathivanan said that the cricket board “is holding a meeting with the players next week hoping to thrash out a solution”.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to come to an agreement and sign the contract with the players before the Indian tour. But it all depends on the outcome of the meeting with the players,” Mathivanan told IANS Wednesday.

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