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High-profile cricket is all set to make its debut in Jaffna after years of a bitter and bloody civil war. The Northern Province, of which Jaffna is the capital, is among the seven teams that will be part of the Sri Lankan Premier League (SLPL) Twenty20 tournament beginning on July 19. “The decision to include Northern Province as one of the teams was taken to promote the game in the region, where the talent pool has been largely untapped because of years of fighting,” Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Nishantha Ranatunga told the Indian Express. “Since the end of the war, we have tried to promote the game in the Northern and North-Eastern Province.”
There have been ongoing efforts over the past year to develop cricket in the region with plans to construct two turf wickets at selected Jaffna schools. “Over 20 qualified coaches have been working to promote the game through the Jaffna Schools Cricket Association and the Jaffna District Cricket Association. Former fast bowler Ravindra Pushpakumara has been in charge of coaching in the Northern Province over the past year and the talent is very promising,” Ranatunga said. Sri Lanka’s cricketers have been doing their bit in Jaffna with former batsman Aravinda de Silva having been involved in school cricket training programmes, while the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara were involved in relief efforts when the tsunami struck the region in 2005.