Sri Lanka Premier League 2012 August 10, 2012

Sri Lanka set for its Twenty20 league

Despite severe teething troubles, the league could be the facelift and morale-booster the beleaguered SLC needs

The inaugural Sri Lanka Premier League begins on Saturday afternoon at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, when the Nagenahira Nagas play the Ruhuna Royals. It's the most high-profile tournament of its kind in the country and, despite severe teething troubles - including an aborted start last year and the withdrawal of top players in the past few days - could be the facelift and morale-booster the beleaguered SLC needs.

The board is currently mired in debt - $70 million at last estimate, thanks largely to World Cup 2011 cost overruns - but stands to make around $1.6 million in profit from the $2.45 million revenue. The seven franchisees will pay a total $30 million to the SLPL over seven years, with 50% of that going to Somerset Entertainment Ventures, the company marketing the tournament. "We're expecting the SLPL to be a positive in our books. The money coming in should definitely outweigh our costs," SLC treasurer Nuski Mohamed said.

On the field, the league features several quality international players, including Shahid Afridi, Albie Morkel, Kemar Roach and Ryan Harris, and all top Sri Lankan cricketers (or those fit enough to play). The coaching staff is equally high-profile: Waqar Younis is in charge of the Ruhuna Royals franchise, while ex-Sri Lanka coaches Tom Moody and Trevor Bayliss will coach the Uthura Rudras and Wayamba United respectively.

"Overall, the SLPL will help Sri Lankan cricket, " Younis said. "Because we've seen that wherever league cricket has been played, young cricketers have blossomed and given them confidence and a lot of courage and opportunities to play with the greats of the game. I think this will do exactly the same to Sri Lankan cricket."

The tournament comprises 24 matches played over three weeks in Colombo and Kandy, with teams allowed to field up to four foreign players per match. That's similar to the rules of the IPL and the Bangladesh Premier League but, unlike those tournaments, selections for the SLPL were made by draft rather than auction. Although 56 overseas players were initially contracted to the SLPL, several high profile signings - including Chris Gayle and Shakib Al Hasan - withdrew over the past week through injury.

The broadcast rights are with ESPN Star sports*, who will air the SLPL in 80 countries worldwide, while it is also being streamed with a ten-minute delay on YouTube. "Broadcasting our tournament on YouTube allows us to reach fans of cricket anywhere in the world," SLC president Upali Dharmadasa said. "Sri Lankans and non-Sri Lankans who are interested in watching the SLPL will have access to it."

Having been initially announced for 2011, the first edition of the SLPL was postponed when the BCCI refused to issue no objection certificates for the participation of Indian players, around whom much of the sponsorship had revolved. The BCCI also denied Indian players permission to play in the 2012 tournament, citing upcoming international cricket against New Zealand as an obstacle, but SEV CEO Sandeep Bhammer says this year's SLPL will be financially viable nonetheless.

"We don't need Indian players for this tournament, because even without them, interest in India will be high," Bhammer says. "Sri Lankan cricketers are very much known to Indian fans and are popular there. You can see that in the way Sri Lankans are elevated in the IPL teams."

*ESPN STAR Sports is a 50:50 joint venture between Walt Disney (ESPN, Inc.), the parent company of ESPNcricinfo, and News Corporation Limited (STAR)

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 13, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    @LordOfTheLions : what you are talking about check the stats ,who is the main sponsor for SLPL

  • Dummy4 on August 13, 2012, 12:40 GMT


  • balu on August 12, 2012, 17:40 GMT

    atleast slpl shoul provide one contract for the non icc countries like afg, png,ned,ire,sot

  • Ranesh on August 12, 2012, 11:21 GMT

    Supporting Wayamba.. Hope Mahela, Razzaq, Akila, Akmal & Taylor will fire !! Go Wayamba!!

  • Micheal on August 12, 2012, 9:41 GMT

    GOOD LUCK SLPL.. Why worry about indians..They wont do any value addition to SLPL. International players who are in SLPL are good with many good Pakistani criketers...

  • Dummy4 on August 12, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    @Chinmay Boriwal

    We love to see Virat,Tendulkar and Rahul Drawids in Action.BCCI is very selfish not allowing any of them to side Sri Lanka.BCCI is isolating itself and in a few years there wont be anyone supporting India outside India and internally everyone will be happy when Indians get thrashed.

  • Dummy4 on August 12, 2012, 7:59 GMT

    From the start SLC board allowed its Players to play in IPL with good faith but unfortunately BCCI dont allow there players to feature in our premier tournements so that SLPL can reach the indian populated crowds.Well for commercial reasons the spirit is lost.As a Sri Lankan Fan i would love to see some of the Indian stars on action.Money is not everything!!!!!!!!.BCCI attitude is the reason i started to hate indian cricket team when they Play with International opponents,though as a neighbour its not correct.

  • sumit on August 12, 2012, 4:27 GMT

    @ahamed fahim....our players dont play for these peanuts,,,thank you

  • Dummy4 on August 12, 2012, 4:24 GMT

    rightly said.. that I am as a cricket fan closely following SLPL..with or without Indian Players.. If Indian players also play that would boost the game.. but as usual BCCI is unprofessional.. But I have a request.. I still don't know different teams.. members specially who captains who..please let me know.. your promos should include that.. all the best ..

  • Afsar on August 11, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    @Mansoor - IPL is a pure business venture just like SLPL. You cannot blame Indian Franchises to not pick Pakistani players in IPL, they have to blame themselves and the board (Ejaz Butt) after the fiasco IPL2. You know how the teams fared in IPL2 which has pakistani players whe board didn't allow their players to play. IPL Franchises want to be safe than spending money jigh risk players.

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