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Let sanity prevail

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by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka Cricket has played down the ongoing pay crisis with national cricketers, telling us that everything will be tickety-boo after the Bangladesh series as they are currently negotiating with the players. But the fact remains that the players refused to sign the contracts and many of them are angry at the suggested pay cut. The new contracts are so flawed that some players would be forced to go through 200% pay cuts.

No doubt these are testing times as SLC has rightly pointed out. The board’s finances have suffered major losses due to the pandemic. But if there’s going to be a pay cut, let it begin from the top. The CEO’s salary of Rs. 1.8 million a month has not been slashed. But he wants players to take a pay cut. The CEO is not covering himself in glory these days as we witnessed during the COPE hearing recently.

In fact, the CEO’s salary has tripled in the last five years. In that scenario, there’s no rationale in asking the players to get a pay cut while the head of the organization enjoys his perks. It is very easy to say that this was a suggestion from one of the sub committees and pass the buck. But the CEO has been in that position for a decade now and before that as Director Cricket Operations for a considerable time. He should have given a piece of his mind to whoever the mastermind, who wasn’t thinking clearly in drafting the contract.

If the proposed contracts go through, Suranga Lakmal, a former captain and a respected senior player, would be earning an annual retainer worth around US$ 45,000, which is close to Rs. nine million. The CEO, at the same time would be earning over Rs. 21 million. How can that be fair? Whoever who prepared this contract is prejudiced.

Apart from a significant reduction in the annual retainers, the seniority payment too has been completely taken off. The mastermind who drafted these contracts is said to be a former captain, who in his prime earned as much as Rs. 100 million annually from SLC. When the board wanted this amount reduced, he had a bone to pick with the administration and together with his crooked agent, who ran a cricket website, sought political intervention. Time was when some of our captains spent more time at Temple Trees than the time they spent at the crease. Literally, they were asking for the pound of flesh and had it their way.

The board’s counter argument then was that they wanted a fair share of revenue go to domestic cricketers in order stop the brain drain as professional cricketers were regularly traveling to England and Australia to earn a living. SLC failed miserably. Senior players were powerful.

Now the roles have been reversed. Since the mastermind is in administration currently, he feels domestic cricketers need to be looked after and hell with elite players. The poacher turned gamekeeper should not be allowed to get away with his ill-advised policies. Let him take his dumb, nonsensical and undiplomatic policies elsewhere.  

The players are up in arms. They are contractually bound to remain silent or else all hell would have broken loose by now as the recommended pay structure has taken things back to what it was 20 years ago.

Having said all these, it must be mentioned that players did need a shake up. The conduct of some of them in recent years has been unbecoming of professional sportsmen. Take the two kilometer run for example, which they are supposed to run in eight minutes and 30 seconds. Look at how many of them fail this basic drill. Or the skin-fold test, which you can pass with bit of discipline in your food intake and social life. Someone who is as young as Avishka Fernando, who has got a huge future ahead of himself, failing a simple fitness tests is awful.

Then there are allegations of players teaming up with trainers and physiotherapists and submitting false fitness reports. No wonder the ICC has categorized Sri Lanka as the most corrupt nation in cricket. Rarely a month passes without us hearing Sri Lankan cricketers either being charged for drunk driving, knocking someone on the road or being involved in a fight (some fights are now fought in social media). The new contracts ensure that players get penalized substantially if their conduct is not up to the mark.

Discipline is a must in all walks of life. So whilst retaining aspects such as minimum fitness standards and conduct of players in public, the pay cut that has no rationale needs to be reviewed.



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Dharmasena reaches singles final

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Ranjan Dharmasena(Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

Ranjan Dharmasena booked a berth in the singles final against Korea’s Sung Bong Han as he beat Sagg-Ho OH 6-1, 6-2 in his semi-final in the Sri Lanka Open International Wheelchair Tennis Tournament at Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Tuesday.

Sung Bong Han of Korea prevented an all-hosts final as he beat Gamini Dissanayake 6-1, 6-2 in the other semi-final.

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New champions add spice to tennis singles events

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The First Capital SSC Open Men’s and Women’s Singles championships were won by Sharmal Dissanayake and Sajida Razick respectively (Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

By A Special Sports Correspondent

Tennis star Sharmal Dissanayake (26) made a comeback to the racquet game in Sri Lanka when he won the Men’s Singles event at the First Capital SSC Open Championships worked off in Colombo recently.

The annual SSC Open tournament gave a great start to the tennis scene in the island for the New Year. It was also a new start for champion player Dissanayake after being away from playing on Sri Lankan courts at local tournaments for a while. He overcame stiff resistance from Chaturya Nilaweera in the finals, which went for four sets. Dissanayake won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and 7-6 in the pulsating final which was scheduled to go for five sets if required. This is the first time five-set tennis was introduced at a local tournament in the island.

Dissanayake has played at peak condition in past tournaments. Fitness was not a cause for Dissanayake at this tournament, but he can reach top playing condition as the months roll away this season. The talk doing the rounds in the tennis circles is that Dissanayake wants to raise his game and fitness and make himself available for the country at overseas assignments too. Meanwhile, Nilaweera, an up-and-coming player with much promise, had to sweat his way into the final with a tough semi-final fixture against Kiran Vairawanathan. It was good to see seasoned players like Guyanga Weerasekare contesting the SSC Open Men’s event. The men’s open tennis event overall in the country has just got the needed boost with the competition that’s raised by so many talented players entering and wanting a share of the pie.

Dissanayake won the Arjun Fernando Challenge Trophy for his efforts at the tournament which was witnessed by an appreciative crowd.

Schoolgirl Sajida Razick made a giant kill in the women’s open singles by beating seasoned player Neyara Weerawansa (6-3, 6-4). Despite taking the first set with her power play Razick saw the experienced Weerawansa breathing down her back in a well-contested second set. Both players made their share of unforced errors, but that didn’t take the punch away from the game Razick looked so confident throughout the game and brilliantly negotiated Weerawansa’s spirited late rally during the second set before winning her first major title in senior tennis. Razick overcame Vishmi Serasinghe in the semis while Weerawansa got the better of Dinara de Silva. Razick won the Sriya Munasinghe Challenge Trophy for her efforts.

Razick has raised her game tremendously and plays some powerful shots and also uses the full court. It would have been interesting to see how she would have fared against Anjalika Kurera had the latter taken part in this tournament. Incidentally, Kurera was not available for the SSC Open this season because she was busy preparing for a vital examination.

The tournament not only attracted its title sponsor in First Capital, but also saw Perera & Sons and Dimo coming in as co-sponsors. It’s one of the most looked forward-to events in the local tennis events calendar; having recorded its start in the 1980s. The SSC Open also serves as a category 1 ranking tournament.

The tournament was organized by the SSC Tennis Home Committee and held under the auspices of the Sri Lanka Tennis Association.

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Amameth scores back-to-back centuries

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Anjala Bandara (left) and Kavindu Amameth

Under 19 Cricket

by Reemus Fernando

Kavindu Amameth scored back-to-back centuries and put on a partnership over 200 runs for the second time in the match as Mahanama College earned major honours against De Mazenod in the Under 19 Traditional cricket encounter which ended in a draw at Kandana on Tuesday.

Amameth followed up his first innings score with an identical knock. In the first essay, he conceded 173 balls for his knock. But in his second he consumed only 101 balls as he cracked 11 fours and seven sixes to boost the score. He also put on a first-wicket stand of 209 runs with Anjala Bandara as Mahanama posted 323 for three wickets at close on a pitch where the home team could muster only 150.

It is also the first time this season that a batsman scored back-to-back centuries in a match.

At Ananda Mawatha, Mahinda College restricted the home team to 159 runs as Dhanuja Induwara picked up five wickets for the visitors to dominate day one of the traditional encounter.

Results

Mahanama take major honours

Scores:

Mahanama

363 all out in 92.1 overs (Kavindu Amameth 126, Inuka Karannagoda 75, Rashmika Perera 52, Chamika Heenatigala 24, Eshan Withanage 24; Kavindu Kaushalya 4/97, Thushan Udayanga 3/64, Sithum Fernando 3/71) and 323 for 3 in 54 overs (Kavindu Amameth 126, Anjala Bandara 84, Koojana Perera 55, Inuka Karannagoda 52n.o.; Thushan Udayanga 2/56)

De Mazenod

2 for 1 overnight 150 all out in 49.0 overs (Neshan Dias 65, Shevan Menusha 25, Uvindu Perera 20, Thareen Perera 20; Chamika Heenatigala 4/12, Inuka Karannagoda 2/26, Rashmika Perera 2/29)

Mahinda dominate day one at Ananda Mawatha

Scores:

Ananda

159 all out in 53.1 overs (Viduna Wijebandara 27, Iruth Gimshan 25, Ayesh Shahimal 42; Dhanuja Induwara 5/33, Tharusha Dilshan 2/37, Arosha Udayandga 2/18)

Mahinda

142 for 5 in 44 overs (Hareen Achintha 36, Hiruna Gallage 38n.o., Tharusha Dilshan 21n.o.; Ashinsa Deshan Nainayaka 4/40)

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