Cricket legend Muralitharan blames senior players for contract dispute

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The leading wicket-taker in Test and ODI cricket and member of the Technical and Advisory Committee to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), cricket legend Muttiah Muralitharan blamed four present senior Sri Lanka players for the ongoing contract dispute.

Appearing on a private TV channel on Monday night, Muralitharan said the four senior cricketers had deprived the younger players from getting a central contract from SLC because of their greed for money.

Muralitharan said that the four cricketers did not allow the other young cricketers sign the contracts because their payments were reduced in the newly drawn up performance-based contract that was introduced for the first time.

He blamed the senior players for threatening the youngsters and said the players during negotiations even refused to wear the Sri Lanka logo and the sponsorship logos.

When questioned who the four senior cricketers were, Muralitharan named Angelo Mathews and Dimuth Karunaratne but didn’t name the other two.

“They brought a lawyer who represented, not only the four but the entire 30-odd players, and this deprived the younger players who had got significant increases from signing because of the greediness of 4-5 players who didn’t think of the rest. That is what happened,” said Muralitharan.

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“We brought out a contract based largely on performance and fitness and less on seniority. It was prepared by Tom Moody (SLC Director of Cricket) based on how other countries have adopted their contracts through a points system. The players for the contract were selected by the selection committee and the coach. Priority was given to performance and then discipline, fitness etc. When you introduce a new system, it has to be experimented at least for one year and then only we can see whether there are any shortcomings in it and then rectify it the next year.”

The players later agreed to sign the central contract after they were given their individual player performance points, something that they have been clamouring for since the new contract was first put to them for signature, but Sri Lanka Cricket in collaboration with the Technical and Advisory Committee had already arrived at a decision that for this year they would offer only tour contracts.

“When we offered the players the contract, they refused to sign it on the grounds of transparency, so we are not giving them a central contract for this year. We are offering them only tour contracts where any player can represent the country. There is no hard and fast rule that the cricket board must give the player a contract.”

According to the tour contract, players will not get a monthly pay but only match fees. Worst affected will be the Test cricketers who have no series to play until late November when West Indies tour Sri Lanka for a two-match series as part of the second World Test Championship.

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