The Sri Lankan cricketers, who registered their first Asia Cup win overseas after beating India in the final in Lahore on Sunday, returned home on Wednesday morning, amid reports of row between the players and the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) over players' contract.
The team led by skipper Mahela Jayawardene arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport at 8:45 am from Pakistan and were offered a red carpet welcome.
Sports Minister, Gamini Lokuge, SLC secretary, Kagatharan Mathivanan, and other board officials received them at the airport. However, the SLC interim committee chief and former captain, Arjuna Ranatunga, who was present at the presentation ceremony in Lahore, was conspicuous by his absence at the airport.
Briefly speaking to reporters at the airport, Jayawardene said the Asia Cup win in Lahore was the result of “fantastic team work”.
“We played as a team and everybody in the team played their role well to secure this historic win,” Jayawardene said.
Meanwhile, a media report said the cricketers had taken part in the Asia Cup in the absence of contracts. It said the players put money matters aside to win the Asia Cup.
According to the report, none of the present team members were under the obligation to the board and were not duty bound to play for the team as they haven’t signed contracts to keep up with administrative requirements.
“We could have boycotted the Asia Cup but we wanted to prove a point.
“Now everyone knows who the wrong-doers are,” the Daily Mirror quoted a cricketer on condition of anonymity.
Annual player contracts, according to regulations, should have been finalised by March 31 but three months have gone by and pundits fear that the issue might trigger a crisis before the Test series against India starts in late July if the players and administrators do not find a meeting point on their respective positions.
Commenting on the issue, SLC secretary, Mathivanan, said the board “is holding a meeting with the players next week hoping to thrash out a solution”.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to come to an agreement and sign the contract with the players before the Indian tour. But it all depends on the outcome of the meeting with the players,” he said.