Aping other cricket nations | Daily News


Aping other cricket nations

In the past week or so there has been news making the rounds that Sri Lanka Cricket is planning to hold a Lanka Premier League (LPL) on the same lines as the Indian Premier League (IPL) and similar to tournaments that are hosted by other Test playing nations across the world.

Before pitching headlong into holding one, SLC must first sit back and think what benefits this type of tournament would bring to the game, to the country and its cricket. By holding a tournament as the LPL what is the SLC looking to gain financially or otherwise, or both?

Just because other Test nations are having their own tournaments on the lines of the highly successful IPL, we should not also try to follow them. Sri Lanka is the only ICC full member without a T20 league of their own, so what?

Can’t our cricket progress without a T20 tournament as it has done over the years?

The only country that has benefitted from holding a T20 tournament is India that has produced cricketers hitherto unheard of if not for their performances in the IPL that has served them as a passport to the national team.

Seven years ago SLC tried to hold its own T20 tournament modelled on the IPL but it never saw the light of day as India refused to release the 12 players selected to participate and furthermore allegations of corruption and incompetence by SLC and its handing over the organisation to a previously unheard of Singapore-based Somerset Entertainment Ventures put the tournament in serious jeopardy.

It was postponed by a year to 2012 and with a renewed deal with Somerset Entertainment Ventures the tournament took place with seven franchises owned by private backers from August 11-31 and Uva Next beat Nagenahira Nagas in the final to emerge champions. The second season was set to begin in 2013 but was cancelled after the franchises breached payment deadlines and that was the end of SLC’s attempt to imitate the IPL.

Where they failed miserably was that unlike the IPL where all the franchise owners are from the host country India, the SL Premier League reached out for owners from outside and those who brought up the franchises were crooked companies some of which were non-existent and existed only by name.

The SLC were caught in a situation where the local companies could not match upto the requirements of the players brought by the franchises and thereby in its desperation to attract overseas players they allowed the franchises to be brought by Indian companies that had dubious records without strictly checking into their credentials.

Now after six years the SLC under a different administration is trying its hand at having another ‘go’ to hold an IPL style tournament and once again they are going to run into troubled waters as the dates they have decided to hold it – August 18 to September 16, 2018 clashes with the English county season and the already established Caribbean Premier League.

In the circumstances the chances of attracting some of the top T20 cricketers for the tournament does not look all that rosy at the moment. A tournament without the big names in T20 cricket is not bound to draw much attraction around the world however globally it is broadcast let alone bring in local crowds to the venues.

Which brings us to the question of why have a Lanka Premier League at all? Why must we try to ape other nations? Sri Lanka is good at doing that in the local film and music industry where they copy virtually every Bollywood movies and songs. Does cricket also have to follow that line? Are we not innovative enough to stand on our own feet and think?

T20 cricket in its shortest format also brings with it the danger of betting at matches. Sri Lanka is already under the microscope of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit that has made several visits to the country in the past year or so to investigate allegations made by the Sports Minister, past cricketers and some of them appearing in the print, electronic and social media.

The only thing that Sri Lanka originated was the power hitting in the first 15 overs of the 1996 World Cup that saw them go and win the coveted trophy. Sri Lanka caught all the participating nations by surprise by giving the licence to score at will to their openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana in the first 15 overs when the fielding side could have only two fielders outside the 30-meter circle. The pair made mincemeat of all the bowling attacks and before the other teams had come to terms with what was happening to their bowlers, Sri Lanka had by then pocketed the most prized possession in cricket.SLC should seriously give a thought of holding an LPL and weigh the pros and cons whether it is worthwhile especially with the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit breathing down its neck and also having a president who has been accused of having connections with the gambling industry. 

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