Sri Lanka opens fresh dialogue to save World Cup hope

Published: Monday, January 20, 2003, 21:40 [IST]
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Colombo: Sri Lanka's cricket Board on Monday opened last-ditch talks with the national team to resolve a pay crisis that threatened to scuttle the country's participation in next month's World Cup. The Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) said it began another round of talks with skipper Sanath Jayasuriya, who is currently leading the team in Australia.

"The talks are still on and we are hoping the matter can be resolved, but there is no breakthrough yet," an official of the BCCSL said. The BCCSL is battling against time after breaching a January 17 deadline set by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for Sri Lankan players to sign contracts to play in the World Cup.

The tournament will be hosted by South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya from February 8 to March 23. "In the event the squad members fail to sign the contracts, the BCCSL will be reluctantly compelled to avail itself of all remedies available to it," the Board said in a two-page statement. A top Board source on Sunday indicated the options included fielding a second-string squad or completely pulling out since Jayasuriya's men were making totally unacceptable demands.

The players were insisting on a 20 per cent share of the BCCSL's guaranteed fee of $ 6.4 million from the World Cup, but the authorities were only willing to offer 10 per cent plus an incentive payment. The incentive was a 100,000 dollar-bonus to the entire team if it won the World Cup and the doubling of match fees from $ 700 to $ 1,400. An additional $ 20,000 was also being offered if the team entered the final.

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