I too as a player have for over 13 years now given my all for Sri Lanka Cricket both on and off the field. As a professional player I have done my best to perform at the highest level consistently on the field and to carry myself as a role model and ambassador for the country off it. I do not have the luxury of standing for election, but have to prove my worth to selectors day in and day out in order to retain my place in the team and safeguard my job and livelihood.
My concern for the game and my fellow players is such that since I received my first national contract in 2003 I have not accepted any match fees or prize money for playing club cricket or provincial cricket as a matter of principle. All such monies lawfully and professionally due to me, I have redistributed to my fellow team members or given it back to the employees at my club NCC. Further, at every turn when the SLC has demanded it of us, the cricketers without complaint have acceded to losing many of their privileges earned through exemplary performance on the field. To such an extent that this year the cricketers gave up substantial benefits due to them under contract since 2004. If you do recall I, even after 13 years of contribution on the field for Sri Lanka, was recalled from the practice game against Bangladesh earlier this year like an errant schoolboy who had displeased a teacher. Yet, despite such disrespect and harassment, my commitment to the team and Sri Lanka’s cricket remains undiminished. I believe my commitment to the game and my contribution to it in Sri Lanka both as a player and my work off the field with Sri Lankans in every part of the country each year, more than equals the very noble obligations that you have undertaken and strive to fulfill after being appointed as Secretary of the Board.
Whatever the views of SLC are regarding player representation in the CLT20, it is grossly unfair and unreasonable to put me in the position I now find myself. The issue has been deliberately twisted to represent a Country v Franchise or Country v Money issue and I am shocked that my loyalty to my country has been questioned and tarnished. This is not a Country v Franchise tournament, but a Franchise v Franchise event. Further, if the SLPL had gone ahead, a franchise owned and operated by a foreign owner complimented by foreign players would have qualified and this matter may not have arisen. If this was an issue of country loyalty regarding national representation it would be a very simple choice of playing for Sri Lanka over any other side or reward.
Further, until Tuesday, I had not received any communication from SLC of any sought seeking to discuss the issue since the local T20 competition ended on the 17th August. Not a single intimation of any sought to avoid or preempt the situation I am put in now. Hyderabad on the other hand through a confidential email on the 14th August informed me that I was in their squad. At this juncture I took the initiative to discuss the potential issue that may arise. I through my representative, asked them whether my services were essential or whether they were considering my release and the answer was that they did require my presence in the squad and that I will not be released. Upon being informed of this I accepted the fact that I would be representing the Sunrisers Hyderabad and signed the squad terms as I am obliged to under the rules and regulations of the CLT20. However, upon being informed yesterday that SLC requires me to play for Kandurata, I informed the necessary authorities of the Champions League that SLC was trying to mediate my release in an amicable manner. Again, as I pointed out yesterday morning, this was inaccurately communicated when you stated in the email to Hyderabd Sunrisers that I had met SLC and that I had requested a release from Hyderabad which was entirely inaccurate and misleading.
I am extremely disappointed the way the issue has been misrepresented in the media and that until yesterday there was no effort made to discuss or resolve this matter nor any communication on the matter from SLC to me. I am also disappointed that some statements to the media by SLC officials have directly contributed to this current state of events and inflamed an issue that could easily have been resolved privately, amicably and respectfully.
Further, I am disappointed that no concern of any sought has been shown by SLC as to the magnitude of the financial loss to be incurred by me for not electing to play for Hyderabad. I do appreciate that SLC also stands to lose the sum of USD 150,000 in this by waiving my release fee, but the fact remains that SLC earns approximately USD 1,500,000 (one million five hundred thousand) from IPL player commissions and Champions League participation fees per annum. The penalty for me choosing to play for Kandurata would be a minimum of $140,000, a sum equivalent to my entire annual national contract (this sum excludes prize money and bonuses and also does not in any-way take account of the long-term cost and repercussions of me opting out of my IPL franchise obligations). SLC office bearers and officials will not have to personally bear the loss of any release fees by me playing for Kandurata, yet my family and I are somehow expected to personally shoulder this loss without any complaint. I also feel it is also both interesting and disappointing that at no stage have you even raised the issue as to whether it would be morally right and fair for SLC to provide compensation for the huge financial penalty that I will incur by accepting your request to play for Kandurata.
I am further disappointed that if the views of SLC was this strong on players representing local franchises that the matter was not discussed and agreed upon before each season of the IPL. The cricket boards of the other 10 players in a similar position as I have not intervened in such a manner and have respected the interests of their players. All of these players have elected to play for their IPL franchise as has been the case in the two previous seasons of the Champions League since the IPL contracts were amended in 2011 by the inclusion of the 20% penalty clauses.
I am most disappointed that all of the above has given rise to a situation of “Damned if you do and Damned if you don’t” where for me as a player there is no positive or fair outcome. It seems to be that in all of this and the concern for everyone else you have conveniently ignored me – the player all of this affects in a very direct and unfair manner.
For the record, I would also like to state that I believe that your conduct in this matter both privately and publicly has been reprehensible and not at all befitting the position you hold as Secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket. You have made me seem disloyal to Sunrisers Hyderebad and also disloyal to my country. In the process you have quite possibly jeopardised my future in the IPL. It ultimately leaves me to question whether your interest in this matter is more in line with a personal agenda against me rather than a national interest. I sincerely hope that your comments in the public are you own and are not in any way representative of the collective view of SLC and the current Ex Co. Since you have now set the precedent of demanding and insisting upon local players representing their home franchise over their IPL teams in the Champions League I will be very interested to see if in the future when the same situation arises that you demand the same of other players.