Sri Lanka contract dispute clouds India tour

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Colombo, Jul 9 (UNI) A protracted contract dispute between the Sri Lankan cricket board and its players has reached boiling point just weeks before India team is due to tour there.

Sri Lanka Cricket's Chief Executive Duleep Mendis insisted that there was no cause for alarm with the India Test series due to start on July 23.

''There are a few differences between the players and the board but we should come to an agreement by next week,'' Mendis told the Daily Mirror yesterday.

Sri Lanka players, who returned home from Karachi today after winning the Asia Cup, have not been paid since February and have requested an emergency board meeting this week.

Senior cricketers agreed to a freeze in their central contract fees this year, but demanded that junior members of the national squad and the A team get substantial wage increases.

Last year, junior players received 15,000 dollars a year as a retainer, the lowest annual contract fees of all Test playing nations.

The board, headed by World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, have been accused of dragging their feet during discussions with the Sri Lanka Cricketer's Association.

Ranatunga has refused any increment on match fees -- also believed to be the lowest among Test nations -- proposing instead that players be fined if they lose a test match.

Other stumbling blocks include player image rights clauses, a demand that cricketers cancel lucrative media contracts and a proposed changed in contract dates due to negotiation delays.

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