Sri Lanka cricketers sign pay deals after board threat

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Dhananjaya de Silva will be one of the best paid Sri Lankan cricket players under the new deal
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Sri Lankan cricketers due to play India in a series this month signed new performance-related contracts after being given a Wednesday deadline, but Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne and former skipper Angelo Mathews were left out.

The national squad, which has suffered multiple defeats on the pitch and discipline problems out of competition, has been at loggerheads with Sri Lanka Cricket since May over the new contracts.

Mathews was in a 30-man squad to play India in three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 games against India starting Tuesday in Colombo, but he asked to be exclusded, the board said in a statement.

Sources close to the 34-year-old former captain him said he was planning to retire from international cricket after the acrimonious dispute.

Karunaratne was also not offered a contract after he opposed the new pay structure, board sources said.

Those in the squad for the India series were given until Wednesday morning to sign the new contracts, Sri Lanka Cricket sources said.

"Players were told in no uncertain terms that they should accept the new terms or leave the team hotel by Wednesday morning," a board source told AFP.

"They have signed the contracts and the pay dispute is now over."

The board has cut fees for the 24 national players by up to 40 percent in the new performance-based deals. Several rounds of talks failed until the board issued the ultimatum this week.

The players, who returned late Tuesday from another poor tour display in England, made no immediate comment. When the contract was unveiled in May, they had said they were being held at "gunpoint".

Karunaratne and Mathews were stunned by the snub, sources close to the two players told AFP.

The two were told they will be paid for Test appearances but will not be offered annual contracts.

Mathews' annual fee would fall from $130,000 a year to $80,000, while Karunaratne was offered $70,000, a drop of $30,000 under the new deal.

With no annual contracts, their payments could drop even further.

All-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva and wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella will be the best paid at $100,000 each.

However, Dickwella is facing a ban for breaching a bio-secure coronavirus bubble during the England tour. Sri Lanka Cricket on Wednesday appointed a five-member panel headed by a retired senior judge to hold a disciplinary inquiry against Dickwella, vice captain Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka.

aj/tw/iwd

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