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Pay disputes aren’t new but are they reasonable?   

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by Rex Clementine  

Pay disputes go back to the times of Bandula Warnapura, our first Test captain. But he was an absolute beauty. He is more of a working-class hero. There was a bit of Ian Chappell in him. He fought for his players. Not for seniority payment or anything.  

Sri Lanka Cricket at times have cut down pay for players significantly just to rein them in. There have been Sri Lankan teams in the past that have refused to sign contracts, but gone on tour, won the championship and then demanded the pound of flesh, which in a way is fair enough.  

So if Kusal Perera’s side beats England, the world’s number one ranked team, in the upcoming series, the cricket-loving public will not mind even if the players are paid triple the bonus they have been promised.  

But what is happening right now is bizarre. The players have said that they are willing to play free as long as their employers show them the formula with which the annual contracts were formulated. Surely, there has to be a better reason than that for you to go on war path with your employers. Mind you players have been warned with three years suspension from all forms of cricket which is quite serious.  

Past greats have taken on the board for reasons other than pay. There have been instances when some players have pulled out of tours when their colleagues have been unceremoniously axed from the side. Can’t remember anyone from the current side standing moral high ground when cricket’s beauty was butchered. Then, why suddenly show yourself as a paragon of virtue wanting to know the mechanism the contracts were formed on.  

Of course, the seniors have been made to go through pay cuts. Some of them will lose at least US$ 50,000. But that seems their least concern. If the mechanism is indeed your issue, did you have to put through such a drama where you even refused to sign a tour declaration?  So virtually, there’s more to it than players wanting clarity about how players were categorized into contracts. 

We aren’t saying that the contracts offered to the players are without loopholes. Take the case of Niroshan Dickwella for example. He had not featured in an ODI for more than two years but ended up on a topmost contract. Then there is Kasun Rajitha who played just two games across all formats of the game and ends up with a C1 contract.  

SLC has said that the pandemic has forced it to suffer major financial losses and pay cuts are inevitable. However, none of the top executives of the board have taken pay cuts.  

As Director of Cricket Tom Moody tried to explain it is far better to stick to a performance-based payment structure than doling out money on a seniority basis. It is certainly unfair on some of the players who have represented the country for over a decade now but sadly, the team’s performance has been so poor that our global rankings have hit rock bottom in recent times.  

The system needed a shake-up and the players a huge wake-up call to get their act together. Cricket is something that we Sri Lankans love so dearly and the game can not suffer more setbacks. Professional sportsmen cannot finish two kilometers in eight and half minutes while others can’t give up chocolates. True that someone like Arjuna Ranatunga would have never survived the current fitness regime. But do keep in mind that he never let his performances drop. He was one of the fiercest competitors on the cricket field.   

Also, there’s a hue and cry about the salary of Tom Moody. It is said that the Director of Cricket is paid a princely sum of US$ 1900 daily. People have little clue that Bangladesh’s spin bowling coach is paid US$ 1500 daily. The common man on the streets just wants one thing now that is to fix the current cricket mess. Hopefully, we will come out of it sooner.  



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So near yet so far for several junior athletes

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Medhani Jayamanne (centre) wins the girls’ 100 metres. (Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

by Reemus Fernando

While sprinters Isuru Kaushalya and Medhani Jayamanne further cemented their places in the team for the World Junior Championships it was a case of so near yet so far for a number of athletes who missed qualifying standards by narrow margins at the Junior Trial held at the Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo on Tuesday.

After going through many a hardships to continue training amidst the Covid 19 pandemic junior athletes produced some outstanding performances during the one-day competition yesterday.

St. Joseph’s College triple jumper Pasindu Malshan missed the qualifying standards after his best jump of 15.76 metres was measured with a wind reading of +3.7. The qualifying standards (QS) achieved with a tail wind of +2 are not considered eligible. He had two outstanding jumps measured at 15.76 metres (+3.7) and 15.47 metres. The qualifying standard is 15.60 metres.

Hurdlers Amesha Hettiarachchi from Kandy, M.D. Dharshana of Ambagamuwa Central and Kaveesha Bandara of Royal College, Colombo narrowly missed the qualifying mark. Amesh, despite failing to maintain the rhythm from the penultimate hurdle, returned a time of 62.66 seconds (QS: 60.75secs)

Dharshana hardly had any competition in the boys’ 400 metres hurdles and returned a time of 53.22 seconds which was a fraction of a second behind the qualifying standards (QS: 53.10). Royal hurdler Bandara was unlucky as he battled wind to return a time of 14.34 seconds in the 110 metres hurdles (QS: 14.15).

St. Peter’s College javelin thrower Ramesh Tharanga who is one of the promising throwers to have emerged from the junior circuit hurled the javelin to 68.33 metres (QS: 69.5m) which was just short of the target.

Long jumper Hirusha Hashen too narrowly missed the target as he cleared 7.31 metres (QS: 7.58 m).

Lumbini College missed a rare opportunity to field two 100 metres sprinters for the World Junior Championships when Chalith Piyumal had to run against the wind (-2.1). When Medhani Jayamanne who is also from Lumbini achieved the qualifying standards in the girls’ 100 metres, Piyumal clocked 10.78 seconds running against the wind (QS: 10.58).

 

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Kaushalya, Medhani dazzle as chance looms for mixed relay team

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by Reemus Fernando

Ananda Sastralaya Matugama sprinter Isuru Kaushalya produced one of the best performances by a junior athlete in Asia in the 400 metres this year when be bettered the World Junior Championship qualifying mark for the second time this season at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka Athletics conducted a Junior Trial yesterday to provide competition-starved junior athletes a chance to reach qualifying standards for this year’s World Under-20 Athletics Championships.

Kaushalya and sprinter Medhani Jayamanne were probably the best performers on the day as several athletes met disappointment after having come almost close to achieving qualifying standards for the World Junior Championship which will be held in three weeks time in Nairobi, Kenya.

Kaushalya, who had already achieved qualifying standard when he entered the one-day meet, clocked 46.90 seconds in the 400 metres final. His outstanding feat is the seventh fastest time this year by a junior athlete in Asia. While only seven junior athletes had clocked sub 47 seconds in Asia, Kaushalya improved his personal best clocking sub 47 seconds and now is the seventh fastest Asian over the 400 metres in his age category.

Medhani Jayamanne, who qualified for the world event in the 200 metres at the Interstate Championship in India recently, did her best to qualify in the 100 metres as well. Her efforts aided by a tail wind (of +2) stopped the clock at 11.85 seconds, the exact qualifying standard required to enter the event.

Holy Cross College, Gampaha runner Shanika Lakshani and Ratnayake Central athlete Tharushi Karunaratne are the others who had already qualified for the World Junior Championships. Having already secured her place in the team in the 800 metres, Karunaratne tried to achieve 400 metres qualifying standards as well yesterday. She fell just short of the target as she returned a time of 55.19 seconds (qualifying standard: 54.85 secs).

St. Joseph’s College triple jumper Pasindu Malshan missed the qualifying standards after his best jump of 15.76 metres had a wind reading of +3.7. There were a number of others who met similar disappointment.

Chance to field mix relay team

Sri Lanka is yet to field a mix relay team for any international event. However with strong performances in both the boys’ and girls’ 400 metres yesterday Sri Lanka Athletics has a golden opportunity to provide youngsters an opportunity to compete in the combined event in Kenya.

In the girls’ 400 metres, both Tharushi Karunaratne (55.19 secs), who has already qualified for the World Junior event in the 800 metres, and Holy Cross, Gampaha athlete Lakshima Mendis (55.29secs) both produced their personal best performances. In the corresponding boys’ event Wekada MV sprinter R.D. Bandara who finished second behind Kaushalya clocked 47.55 seconds.

With junior athletes lacking international exposure, exploring chances of fielding a mix relay team will augur well for their future.

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Second T-20 postponed after Pandya tests positive

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by Rex Clementine

Yesterday’s second T-20 International between Sri Lanka and India at RPS was postponed after Indian player Krunal Pandya tested positive for COVID. The game is expected to be played today followed by the final T-20 International on Thursday depending on the PCR results of the remaining players.

During the Antigen test taken on all players yesterday afternoon, Pandya had tested positive. Accordingly, seven other players who are identified as his close contacts were isolated.

All players of the Indian team and support staff then did PCR tests and although the results were expected by 6 pm yesterday, there was no official announcement when this edition went to print. Sources said that Pandya had tested positive in his PCR test as well.

There were a few concerns as to how Pandya tested positive as all players and coaching staff are in bio-secure bubbles and outside interaction is little. Health authorities were conducting investigations.

It is not clear as to how many days Pandya’s close contacts have to remain in isolation. However, India are carrying an extended squad and fielding a decent team should not be a worry.

This is the second instance the series has been postponed due to the pandemic. Earlier, after Sri Lanka Batting Coach Grant Flower tested positive, all Sri Lankan players were isolated and the series was pushed back by several days.

The Sri Lankan team was informed about the series being pushed back when they gathered for the team meeting at the hotel at 3pm. The Sri Lankans are staying at Cinnamon Grand while the Indians are at Taj Samudra. Both teams were supposed to stay at Taj but the Sri Lankans were evacuated after Flower tested positive.

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