The Sri Lanka Premier League (which is an ICC-approved tournament and is played under the auspices of Sri Lanka Cricket, the apex body formed under the Ministry of Sports, Government of Sri Lanka, and governing all cricket related matters of Sri Lanka) is on its way to its maiden launch in Sri Lanka, with the first game being played in Colombo, on August 11th this year.
The League has launched to a great start with all 7 Provincial franchises on offer having been bought for a average price of USD4.33 mln.
The SLPL is aimed at being Sri Lanka’s most prestigious, annually-held, Twenty20 cricket competition and shall feature the best and upcoming cricketing talent from Sri Lanka playing alongside national Sri Lankan cricketers as well as some of the world’s biggest Twenty20 cricket stars, generally, in the month of August each year subject to the Sri Lankan national team’s commitments under the ICC FTP, failing which, in July, each year. The inaugural season of the SLPL shall be played in August 2012 between August 11th and August 31st, 2012 (both dates inclusive) at the iconic R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo and the picturesque Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy.
The Opening Ceremony Night celebrating the birth of the SLPL shall be held in Colombo’s prestigious Sugathadasa Stadium on the evening of August 10th and shall feature many celebrity acts in the presence of former and current cricketers, as well as the new SLPL franchise owners.
The SLPL Twenty20 Cricket Tournament is expected to not only be an exciting world-class Twenty20 tournament but also a long-term successful business venture for stakeholders of the SLPL. A tournament of this stature will promote Sri Lanka further in terms of its recognition as one of the world’s leading cricketing nations (given that the tournament shall be broadcasted and therefore, viewed globally) while providing upcoming Sri Lankan cricketers to be seen on various media-related international platforms and thereby, further increasing interest levels of cricket within Sri Lanka and resulting in encouraging more youngsters to play the beautiful game of cricket. Furthermore, apart from just the recognition angle, playing cricket alongside and against some of the world’s best cricketing talent shall give the said young and upcoming cricketers of Sri Lanka the opportunity to hone their skills further and get a first-hand experience of the various demands and challenges faced within competitive international cricket even without having had the opportunity to play for Sri Lanka on a national level. In this manner, the tournament shall give Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Cricket, an opportunity to build an enviable “bench-strength” of young cricketers with specialized skill-sets.
The Sri Lanka Premier League Twenty20 Cricket Tournament, as mentioned earlier, is expected to be telecast “live” across all major cricketing nations and shall offer international recognition and high visibility for partners, stakeholders and brands associated with itself. With the end of the 30 years civil war in Sri Lanka, many countries/companies/individuals have expressed high levels of interest to be present and to do business in Sri Lanka, and being associated with the SLPL through sponsorships/ownership of franchise(s) is widely considered by many to be a low-cost and high impact way of getting involved with the Sri Lankan economy/diaspora. It is also estimated that with the growth of the SLPL Twenty20 Cricket Tournament over time, the fan-following for each of the Provincial teams that shall be playing and participating in the SLPL from the inaugural season onwards shall expand to form communities (as has been amply witnessed across successful sports leagues and franchises around the world).
SLC has decided to take a “Provincial” as opposed to “City-based” Franchise approach to team formation and related sale to interested buyers. The logic for such an approach stems from the fact that Sri Lanka is a relatively small country with a population of only 20 million people and unlike other countries in the subcontinent (where there are a number of cities with large populations thereby making it relatively easier to build “City-based” franchise loyalty), using a “City-based” approach to building franchises in Sri Lanka would restrict and/or limit the catchment area for fans as opposed to a “Provincial” approach that would cover a wider area and allow for a much larger fan base. In light of this said approach, each Provincial team/Franchise shall comprise of a squad of 18 players, of which 12 players shall be Sri Lankan players (of which at least 2 player will be an Under-21 Sri Lankan player) and the remaining 6 players shall all be Overseas players.
There shall be a total of seven (7) Provincial teams that shall play and participate in the SLPL as highlighted below, and each Provincial team’s respective “Icon Player”, who may or may not be his respective Team’s Captain (but has been very carefully nominated/selected by SLC on the basis of the said Icon Player’s association/fan-following within each Province as well as internationally among the international cricket community), is as follows:-
- Basnahira (Western) Province – Tillakaratne Dilshan;
- Kandurata (Central) Province – Kumar Sangakkara;
- Nagenahira (Eastern) Province – Angelo Matthews;
- Ruhuna (Southern) Province – Lasith Malinga;
- Uthura (Northern) Province – Muttiah Muralitharan;
- Uva (South East) Province – Chris Gayle
- Wayamba (North West) Province – Mahela Jayawardene;
The 7 Provincial franchises and their respective preliminary squads (which were arrived at using a “Draft” system for player selection), are as follows:-
Preliminary SLPL squads:
Uthura: Shakib Al Hasan, Brendan Taylor, Kevon Cooper, Imran Farhat, Fidel Edwards, David Miller, Dillon du Preez, Samuel Badree, Chamara Kapugedara, Jehan Mubarak, Farveez Maharoof, Janaka Gunaratne, Nilanka Premaratne, Mahela Udawatte, Chathura Peiris, Akalanka Ganegama, Roshen Silva, PHD Kaushalya, Sandun Weerakkody, Madura Lakmal, Sohan Boralessa, Yohan de Silva, Madushanka Ekanayake, Muttiah Muralitharan
Nagenahira: Mitchell Marsh, Imran Nazir, Travis Birt, Ahmed Shehzad, Ben Laughlin, Elias Sunny, Mushfiqur Rahim, Nasir Hossain, Nuwan Kulasekara, Angelo Perera, Ajantha Mendis, TN Sampath, Sachith Pathirana, Suraj Randiv, Gayan Maneeshan, Chameera Dushmantha, Shaminda Eranga, Udara Jayasundera, Kanishka Alvitigala, Sajeewa Weerakoon, Andy Solomons, Ishan Jayaratne, Charith Sylvester, Angelo Mathews
Ruhuna: Shahid Afridi, Daniel Harris, Ryan Harris, Aaron Finch, Jerome Taylor, Nathan McCullum, Ryan McLaren, Richard Levi, Lahiru Thirimanne, Chamara Silva, Prasanna Jayawardene, Dilruwan Perera, Ramith Rambukwella, Tharanga Lakshitha, Gihan Rupasinghe, Shalika Karunanayake, Denuwan Rajakaruna, Malinga Bandara, Kasun Madushanka, Dananja de Silva, Shanuka Dissanayake, Gayan Wijekoon, Chaminda Vidanapathirana, Lasith Malinga
Wayamba: Azhar Mahmood, Umar Akmal, Tamim Iqbal, Colin Ingram, Kemar Roach, James Faulkner, Abdul Razzaq, Brad Hogg, Dinesh Chandimal, Isuru Udana, Kushal Janith Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Kaushal Weeraratne, Shehan Jayasuriya, Suranga Lakmal, Milinda Siriwardana, Chathuraga Kumara, Nimesh Perera, Chaminda Vaas, Alankara Asanka, Dashun Shanaka, Malinga Pushpakumara, Dilesh Gunaratne, Mahela Jaywardene
Kandurata: Saeed Ajmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sohail Tanvir, Chris Lynn, Dane Vilas, Albie Morkel, Johan Botha, Adam Voges, Thissara Perera, Thilan Samaraweera, Kosala Kulasekara, Kithruwan Vithanage, Kaushal Lokuarachchi, Jeevantha Kulatunga, Malinda Warnapura, Chanaka Welegedara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Tharanga Paranavitana, Romesh Buddhika, Chinthaka Perera, Kaushal Silva, Niroshan Dikwella, Kumar Sangakkara
Basnahira: Brad Hodge, Marlon Samuels, Daniel Smith, Dirk Nannes, Robin Peterson, Tim Southee, Clint McKay, Cameron Borgas, Jeevan Mendis, Rangana Herath, Indika de Saram, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dhammika Prasad, Lahiru Jayaratne, Rushan Jaleel, Sachithra Serasinghe, Nuwan Pradeep, Dimuth Karunaratne, Amal Athulathmudali, Sanjaya Gangodawila, Nadeera Nawala, Thilan Tushara, Ishara Amerasinghe, TM Dilshan
Uva: Andrew McDonald, Umar Gul, Shoaib Malik, Callum Ferguson, James Franklin, Abdur Rehman, Hammad Azam, Chris Gayle, Sachithra Senanayake, Thilina Kandamby, Upul Tharanga, Dilshan Munaweera, Dilhara Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Chintaka Jayasinghe, Sameera Zoysa, Seekkuge Prasanna, Ashan Priyanjana, Vishva Fernando, Lahiru Madhushanka, Akila Ishanka, Dinesh Darshapriya, Saliya Saman, Ashen Silva
Pix By : Jayasiri Wickramasinghe (Lanka Business News - Photo Gallery)