The ill-feeling in Sri Lankan cricket shows no sign of abating with the board arguing that it was Chaminda Vaas’ greed that led to him calling an end to a very short tenure as bowling coach.
Only two days ago, Guerilla Cricket reported claims that a number of Sri Lanka players were considering moving to the US to try and qualify for the national team there in a dispute over pay and conditions – Sri Lanka Cricket has already hinted at a reduction of 40 per cent in salaries after poor performances in the Test series versus England.
And shortly after his appointment for the tour to the West Indies as a consultant, Vaas dramatically resigned, posting on Twitter: “I made a humble request to SLC and they turned it down. That is all I can say at the moment. Justice will prevail.”
That humble request, according to reports, was for a rise from 500,000 rupees (£1,800) to 700,000 rupees, which was agreed, and doubling of his daily expenses from $150 (£106) to £300, which wasn’t and led to the board launching an astonishing attack on the former left-arm seamer and third highest wicket-taker in Sri Lanka Test history.
In a statement, Sri Lanka branded Vaas’s decision “irresponsible” on the eve of the tour and one made purely for “monetary gain”.
“It is particularly disheartening to note that in the economic climate such as the one facing the entire globe right now, Mr Vaas has made this sudden and irresponsible move on the eve of the team’s departure, based on personal monetary gain,” it said.
“It is extremely disheartening that a legend such as Chaminda Vaas has resorted to holding the administration, the players and indeed the game [to] ransom by handing in his resignation at the eleventh hour, citing the administration’s refusal to accede to an unjustifiable demand for an increased US dollar remuneration.”
It added that he was “already receiving remuneration that is in keeping with his experience, qualifications and experience, in addition to which he would have been entitled to the usual US dollar per diems offered to all members of a travelling squad”.
The situation is complicated by suggestions that Sri Lanka Cricket is paying more for overseas coaches – which may have riled Vaas as the board continues its pursuit of Tom Moody, the Australian, as director of cricket – and also claims that the chief executive and chief operating officer of Sri Lanka Cricket have had recent pay rises.
Vaas had been working for the board as the fast bowling coach at the country’s High Performance Centre, a position he has also quit in the fall-out from the dispute.
The argument went as far as the Sri Lankan parliament, where the sports minister Namal Rajapaska joined in the condemnation, calling Vaas’ decision “indisciplined”. He said: “When he resigned four hours prior to the tour, it shows the indiscipline of the individual. His actions affect the young players of the team who are targeting the 2023 World Cup. Whatever issues there might be with the Cricket Board, we should not let them affect the players and the industry. If Sri Lanka Cricket had at that time agreed to his request, another coach or cricketer could make similar demands and threaten to withdraw.”
Rajapaska was answering a question put by Opposition MP Thushura Amarasena, who came to Vaas’s defence, arguing that the Sri Lanka Cricket statement had “tarnished the image” of a man who played 111 Tests and 322 ODIs for his country.
Referring to the rises given to senior staff at Sri Lanka Cricket – which he said were ten lakhs (£10,000) and six lakhs respectively – he said: ” Vaas is a player of Sri Lankan cricket, which is a brand that carried Sri Lanka to the world.
“Therefore, such a player has not been properly treated when their officials get such massive increments.”
Any reports of a ceasefire look unlikely, with no one quite sure who is in charge of Sri Lankan cricket any more. Aravinda Da Silva, the head of a new Cricket Committee appointed recently that also includes Roshan Mahanama, Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitharan, had asked Sri Lanka Cricket to sort out the dispute with Vaas, but the board asked the former bowler to talk to Da Silva, a 1996 World Cup-winner.
The last word was left to Vaas, who tweeted mysteriously, pointedly and perhaps terminally in this particular episode: “The father said: ‘I wanted to let u no that the right place values u in the right way. Don’t find yourself in the wrong place & get angry if you are not valued. Those that know your value are those who appreciate u, Don’t stay in a place where nobody sees your value. Know your worth.'”