Colombo - A Sri Lankan bank has agreed to release 600 million Sri Lanka rupees ($5.07 million) to the country's cash-strapped cricket board to pay its salary-starved players, according to the sports ministry.
Sri Lanka's top cricketers have been owed match payments dating back to the end of last year's Cricket World Cup, with its cricket board unable to pay them since racking up some 3.7 billion Sri Lanka rupees of debt to finance the building of three cricket stadiums for the global tournament.
The state-owned Bank of Ceylon had agreed to release the funds after meetings with Sri Lanka's sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, the ministry said in a statement.
The minister had ordered Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to pay the pending salaries up to the month of February by the end of the month, and added that March payments would be made on time.
"Minister Aluthgamage also in writing, had instructed the officials of SLC not to overlook contract payments in the future and Sri Lanka Cricket should take the full responsibility to ensure that the player payments are made on time in the future," the statement said.
Sri Lanka's players were previously promised by the sports minister that their outstanding payments would be fully paid by January.
Sri Lanka's one-day team are currently playing a triangular series in Australia with India. They thrashed Australia by eight wickets in Sydney on Friday to record their first win in the tournament after two losses and a tie.
The players had not seen the ministry's statement, but had been assured of prompt payment, a team official told Reuters.
"The players are satisfied with the assurance that they are going to be paid," he said.
Since making it to the final of the World Cup, Sri Lanka have not won a Test or one-day series at home or abroad, while their cricket board has been warned by the International Cricket Council to rid itself of government interference or risk sanctions.