What the first edition of the SLPL has taught us

By Buwaneka Kodithuwakku | September 2, 2012

The SLPL was mostly a washout.
Several matches, including the all important semi-final and final, were affected by wet weather. © Ron Gaunt/SPORTZPICS/SLPL

In a bid to attract marquee overseas players, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) scheduled its crown jewel, the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL), during the monsoon season. The reasoning: the availability of players from all Test playing nations, barring England, in August. Did Sri Lanka manage to secure the services of star players due to this? Was it worth sacrificing the dry season in Sri Lanka for the sake of attracting a few star players from overseas? Not surprisingly, rain ruined the business end of the SLPL. No matter what star power was present, all that was witnessed was pouring rain on our TV screens.

If acquiring top-draw players is of utmost importance, then the USA T20 League starting in 2013 is set to clash with the next edition of the SLPL, and one assumes that payments to players for the American league would be much higher than what the SLPL has to offer. Regardless of when the SLPL is held, India will not be sending its players and that’s a fact. Most of the overseas players at this year’s SLPL were T20 specialists, retired players and domestic overseas players with no international experience. It would not have mattered to most of them when the SLPL was played, just as long as the SLPL did not clash with the two richest T20 leagues – the Indian Premier League and Australia’s Big Bash League. Until the league in the US gets underway, it would be prudent to only avoid clashing with Sri Lanka's international commitments and the leagues in India and Australia when picking a window for the SLPL tournament, but little else should come in the way of the decision-making process.

One wonders how under-21 players from provinces such as Uthura, Uva and Nagenahira felt when the four mandatory under-21 player slots were occupied by players from mostly Basnahira. It is hard to fathom why St John’s, St Patrick’s, Jaffna Central or Hartley College could not supply just four under-21 players for the Uthura squad. SLC must right the wrong by amending the regulations, and making it compulsory to have under-21 players picked from the team's home province and not from outside.

According to the organisers, the tournament will be expanding to nine provinces next year and divided into two groups of five and four. Anyone with an elementary knowledge of mathematics would realise that this would lead to an unfair advantages to some teams. It may even lead to protests from the participating teams should they miss out on the knock-outs. Therefore, considering the possibility of unfair advantages for some teams in a nine-team tournament, as well as the fact that Basnahira province has excess talent dominating even non-Basnahira teams, an elegant solution would be to have a 10-team SLPL with two teams from Basnahira province.

There also needs to be a careful study of the quality of overseas players, rather than getting them down for the sake of fulfilling a quota. Unless Sri Lankan players have played international cricket, they are not pick for the IPL. However, the SLPL was a totally different experience, where overseas players who have not played international cricket were seen plying their trade. If foreign players are meant to enhance the prestige of the SLPL, how did the tournament gain by having some 30 players who have never played at the highest level? If there are no overseas players with international experience available, the SLPL should ideally provide that opportunity to a local player, while limiting the tournament to only overseas players who have played top-level cricket. Given the choice, Sri Lankan fans would surely prefer to watch a local player instead of a foreigner they have not heard of.

In addition, it would benefit the stakeholders to impress upon SLC to negotiate with their Indian counterparts to have two teams from the SLPL at the Champions Trophy. This would certainly add more prestige and importance to the SLPL and enhance the brand. A domestic T20 league’s prestige lies in the number of teams it fields at the annual Champions Trophy. Australia and South Africa, along with England, have the luxury of fielding two teams each, while India – with its sledgehammer attitude – can field twice as many teams.

Finally, the seven-province SLPL tournament was played out in two provinces which, according to the organisers, was as a result of a lack of proper venues in all provinces, logistical challenges and the short duration of the tournament. The lack of quality grounds in provinces is a half truth, as we saw international grounds in Dambulla, Galle and Hambantota etc unused during the first edition of the SLPL. These venues would have taken the matches closer to the teams’ home provinces. As far as logistics go, are TV crews and their equipment moved from Chennai to Mumbai and vice-versa at the IPL? No, and that’s because they are stationed permanently at these venues for the entirety of the IPL. The lack of crowds could very well be as a result of playing in just two venues. The turnout was so low that the organisers had to import fans from India to fill the stadia, which must certainly be a first outside of a political rally. It is both the duty of the cricket board and the organisers of the SLPL to amend the franchise agreements to include a clause that requires franchises to commit to developing at least one ground in each province to first-class status, enabling each province to host SLPL matches during the course of the next five years.

Currently, the SLPL does not create the necessary bond between the teams and their provincial following, and it can fast turn into an alien event imposed upon Sri Lanka. Playing the SLPL in stadiums and grounds either close to or in provinces that the teams represent, with local talent from those provinces thrown into the mix, is perhaps the recipe to have the masses embrace the tournament as their own.

© Island Cricket


UppercuT's picture
Member since:
19 October 2011
Last activity:
1 year 22 weeks

ok guys, c'mon!! do ur RESEARCH thoroughly before u point out them as 'facts'
the writer has messed it up in the 1st and 2nd paragraph itself:

1. the sri lankan monsoon is from end of MAY to end of JULY!!! AUGUST & SEPTEMBER r usually the DRIEST months in SL!! It's true the weather patterns have changed, but organizers can't count on that

2. the US cricket league will take place in the months of JUNE & JULY which clashes with the ENGLISH season NOT SLPL in AUGUST & SEPTEMBER!!!

3. comparing 5-seasons strong IPL with inaugural SLPL is not the most sensible argument.

there were quite a few flaws however on organizers part;
-not including local players from uthura and nagenahira
-not having reserve days for semifinals & finals
-including roshan abeysinghe as a commentator(boring as hell!!!)
-not utilizing more grounds in SL
-having 'strategic time-outs' like in IPL

and finally to quote someone from a previous post -" rome was not build overnight"- :)

(Last edited by UppercuT on September 2, 2012 - 08:32)
Jim Reeves's picture

Uppercut_7 - it is you who have mixed up the facts:
Rainy Seasons in Sri Lanka are as follows:
· South West Monsoon- May to August
· North East Monsoon- November to February

For your information - South Africa is scheduled to visit
Sri Lanka during August 2013 and as a result SLC hopes to
advance the SLPL to June / July 2013.

Comparing oneself with the best in business is the mark of excellence and by not benchmarking with the best which happens to be the IPL you are doing more of a disservice than service to the SLPL.

(Last edited by on September 2, 2012 - 09:06)
Anonymous's picture

Yeah May to August is Yala Monsoon season and you get rain bottom half of Sri Lanka.

Info: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/sri-lanka/weather

Anonymous's picture

that point about having to pick players from their provinces will make the teams weaker and the talentad western province lads will be without a match. there aren't enough talent coming trough from the other provinces, not yet. UVA, Negenahira, Uthura and probably Wayaba as well. who cares about the rain, I enojoyed the matches when ever I tuned up to watch

UppercuT's picture
Member since:
19 October 2011
Last activity:
1 year 22 weeks

@Jim Reeves, yup that's right, from May to August, that's why i said "from end of MAY to end of JULY i.e. beginning of AUGUST. AUGUST as a month is considered drier month along with SEPTEMBER. i know this cus i do this for my higher education research.

ur websites have provided the GENERALISED version while i have provided the 'pin-point' duration: end of May to end of July(ie start of August)

2. well i just checked the FTP :http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/match/fixtures/calendar.html
i can't see a SOUTH AFRICAN TOUR TO SL in August/September. but if they r going to tour SL, then ma bad(but i can't find such tour anywhere)

(Last edited by UppercuT on September 2, 2012 - 09:57)
Jim Reeves's picture

It may well be New Zealand or any other team (the name of the country does not matter) but a foreign team is due to visit Sri Lanka during August 2013 and the SLPL would be advanced to June or July 2013 due to that reason.

UppercuT's picture
Member since:
19 October 2011
Last activity:
1 year 22 weeks

@Jim reeves pls check the link i've provided. There r no tours scheduled to SL during Aug/Sept. :)

(Last edited by UppercuT on September 2, 2012 - 10:32)
Jim Reeves's picture

Average rainfall in Colombo
January - 62mm
February - 69mm
March - 130mm
April - 253mm
May - 382mm
June - 186mm
July - 125mm
August - 114mm
September - 236mm
October - 369mm
November - 310mm
December - 168mm

(Last edited by on September 2, 2012 - 10:40)
Jim Reeves's picture

Jul-Aug 2013
South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2013
Matches: 3 Test, 5 ODI and 3 T20
Venue: Sri Lanka

Jim Reeves's picture

From ICC website
July / Aug 2013 - Sri Lanka to host South Africa for 3 tests / 5 ODIs / 3 T20s

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