SRI LANKA CRICKET PLAYER AD­MIN­IS­TRA­TOR DIF­FER­ENCES ARE THE RE­SULT OF PAY­MENT DIS­PUTES SAYS FORMER NA­TIONAL TEAM MAN­AGER

Ajit Jayasekara states play­ers are to be blamed for the poor re­la­tions be­tween Play­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors Says the rift was caused when SLC de­cided to re­duce the per­cent­age of player pay­ments from ICC events In­quiry Com­mit­tee rec­om­mends player pay­ments pe

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - SPORTS - BY CHANNAKA DE SILVA

Former Sri Lanka na­tional cricket team man­ager Air Com­modore Ajit Jayasekara has writ­ten an in­ter­est­ing let­ter de­tail­ing the ac­ri­mo­nious re­la­tion­ship be­tween na­tional play­ers and cricket ad­min­is­tra­tors.

Jayasekara was the na­tional team man­ager from 2000 to 2004 be­fore be­com­ing the CEO of SLC in 2009 and serv­ing the in­sti­tu­tion in var­i­ous the ca­pac­i­ties till this year in­clud­ing as the Head of Anti Cor­rup­tion and Se­cu­rity Unit.

He had blamed the play­ers for the dif­fer­ences be­tween play­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors, specif­i­cally nam­ing former stars Ku­mar San­gakkara and Ma­hela Jayawar­dene while men­tion­ing their fiery stand against the then SLC Sec­re­tary Nis­han­tha Ranatunga. Jayasekara had sub­mit­ted this let­ter to the three mem­ber com­mit­tee that con­ducted the in­quiry on al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion in Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) from Jan­uary 2012 to April 2015. Be­low is the rel­e­vant sec­tion of the re­port. “Mr Ajith Jayasekera, gave us a writ­ten state­ment which stated that the cause for the dif­fer­ences be­tween the Play­ers and Ad­min­is­tra­tors, was the con­duct by the Play­ers. We re­pro­duce be­low, an ex­cerpt from Mr Ajth Jayasekera’s writ­ten state­ment, which though some­what lengthy, brings to light the re­al­ity of the con­flict be­tween Of­fi­cials and cer­tain

play­ers, from a per­spec­tive of a cricket Ad­min­is­tra­tor:”

“Prior to WC 2007, the play­ers ne­go­ti­ated with the Board (SLC) and were of­fered 10% orig­i­nally, later in­creased to 15% of the ICC event dis­tri­bu­tion and par­tic­i­pa­tion fees. By the time the 2011 World Cup was near­ing, with the D.S. De Silva In­terim Com­mit­tee in of­fice, the play­ers sought and ob­tained a pay­ment of 25% of the event dis­tri­bu­tion and par­tic­i­pa­tion fee. Not only was this con­ces­sion as­sured to them ver­bally but they de­manded and suc­ceeded in get­ting this com­mit­ment in­cluded in the player con­tracts. When the an­nual player con­tracts came up for re­view the fol­low­ing year, the In­terim Com­mit­tee felt that this amount of pay­ment was ex­ces­sive con­sid­er­ing the fact that the top 15 play­ers were then earn­ing nearly 70% of the gross an­nual in­come of SLC and de­cided to re­move the said com­mit­ment from the con­tract un­til a ne­go­ti­ated amount was fi­nal­ized.

The amount was then re­duced to 15%, which did not go well with the play­ers hut the ad­min­is­tra­tion stood by this de­ci­sion they took. The Sec­re­tary be­ing: the ‘face’ of the ad­min­is­tra­tion took the ‘flak’ from the play­ers and their dis­trust and de­fi­ance turned to out­right con­fronta­tion and dis­re­spect.

From this mo­ment, at ev­ery turn, the play­ers ag­i­tated against the ad­min­is­tra­tion and turned their wrath on them. The ad­min­is­tra­tion stood firm but the seeds of con­fronta­tion had been sown. In 2010, when Sri Lanka played In­dia at Dam­bulla, In­dia were on the verge of win­ning the match with 1 run to get and Viren­dra Se­hwag not out on 99. Su­raj Ran­div, a rel­a­tively new player was bowl­ing and on the urg­ing of se­nior player Dil­shan, bowled a bla­tant no bali, which was promptly hit for 6, but did not count as the one run to win had been ob­tained when Ran­div bowled the no ball. Se­hwag was left stranded on 99 not out. The Ad­min­is­tra­tion felt that this act was against the spirit of the game and held a dis­ci­plinary in­quiry and dealt pun­ish­ments to Ran­div and Dil­shan and rep­ri­manded San­gakkara, the Cap­tain, for not re­tain­ing any con­trol over his play­ers and per­mit­ting them to in­dulge in such bla­tant un­sports­man­like be­hav­iour. San­gakkara de­fi­antly re­fused to ac­cept this rep­ri­mand/cen­sure and ar­gued with the Sec­re­tary. He was told in no un­cer­tain terms that the rep­ri­mand stood. Later, the late Mr Tony Greig met with the Chair­man, Sec­re­tary and my­self and told us that San­gakkara was more cul­pa­ble for this of­fence and that he should be given a more se­vere pun­ish­ment than the other two. We col­lec­tively re­jected his sug­ges­tion and told him that we had al­ready de­cided on and con­veyed our pun­ish­ments and that we were not go­ing to change it.

Mean­while, ev­ery year, when the con­tracts came up for re­newal the play­ers’ financial de­mands be­came more in­tense and it al­ways came to a stand-off sit­u­a­tion which was solved at the last mo­ment, much to the dis­like of the play­ers, but with jus­ti­fi­ca­tion as far as the ad­min­is­tra­tion was con­cerned. -

Nis­han­tha Ranatunga, the Sec­re­tary, thus be­came the tar­get of their vir­u­lence and with fans and cricket fol­low­ers bay­ing for the blood of the ad­min­is­tra­tors, th­ese player woes were over am­pli­fied and be­came fod­der for Slc-bash­ing which reached un­real pro­por­tions and we, as ad­min­is­tra­tors felt hard done by.

Ku­mar San­gakkara’s Colin Cow­drey lecture at Lord’s was an­other case in point. The World ap­plauded San­gakkara for a won­der­ful speech, for its con­tent, clar­ity, dic­tion and pre­sen­ta­tion. BUT, he was in the breach of his con­tract, when he crit­i­cised the SLC. His crit­i­cism lasted just over 2 min­utes of his hour long speech, which he him­self ad­mit­ted later, but the en­tirety of the Sri Lankan peo­ple ap­plauded him for just this crit­i­cism and not for its other con­tent. Such was the anger di­rected to­wards the SLC ad­min­is­tra­tion. This anger and an­tag­o­nism con­tin­ued with each pass­ing in­ci­dent be­tween the play­ers and the Board. The fi­nal nail on the cof­fin was the retirement an­nounce­ment by Jayaward­cna and San­gakkara when they were in Bangladesh for the World Twenty20 in 2014. Yes, Jayawar­dena had only an­swered a ques­tion by a jour­nal­ist when he replied in the af­fir­ma­tive when asked whether he was go­ing to re­tire from T20’s af­ter the tour­na­ment. The Ad­min­is­tra­tion felt that he was out of or­der talk­ing to the press be­fore in­form­ing the board. It could have been bet­ter if there was a clear di­a­logue be­tween them and us, but such was the level of anger that both play­ers went pub­lic and crit­i­cized the ad­min­is­tra­tion at a press con­fer­ence on their ar­rival as World T20 Cham­pi­ons. There was no longer any trust or friend­ship be­tween the play­ers and the Board. It had com­pletely bro­ken down”

The three-mem­ber com­mit­tee rec­om­mended that dif­fer­ences be­tween play­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors should be re­solved quickly and also that na­tional team player pay­ments should be lim­ited.

“We rec­om­mend that if there is still lack of trust and friend­ship be­tween (any) Play­ers and the Board, it would be best to iron out th­ese dif­fer­ences through di­a­logue to cre­ate a bet­ter re­la­tion­ship and an un­der­stand­ing for the sake of Sn Lanka Cricket.

Though strictly not seen by us as an act of ha­rass­ment Mr Nis­han­tha Ranatunga speak­ing to us, drew our at­ten­tion to the re­duc­tion of the player pay­ment per­cent­age from 25% to 15% with re­gard to ICC events by the then In­terim Com­mit­tee in 2011. Mr Ranatunga fur­ther con­tended that, the top brass of play­ers’ earn­ings and main­te­nance costs at­trib­uted to nearly 70% of the gross an­nual in­come of SLC at that time. In other Test play­ing na­tions the top brass, of play­ers are only al­lo­cated 25% of financial resources.

We would rec­om­mend that a sys­tem of keep­ing the player pay­ments pegged to a per­cent­age of the SLC rev­enue’ be-pur­sued sub­ject to the spon­sor­ship pe­ri­ods co­in­cid­ing with the player con­tracts” stated the re­port.

The fi­nal nail on the cof­fin was the retirement an­nounce­ment by Jayaward­cna and San­gakkara

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