Top players approached for Sri Lankan T20 league
Sri Lanka Cricket is organising a Twenty20 league in July and August 2011 featuring their top players as well as internationals from India, Australia, Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa. The tournament, which will have five regional teams led by senior Sri Lankan cricketers, is the latest in a series of Twenty20 leagues, with some degree of international participation, that have been created over the past few years.
The league will be run by the Singapore-based Somerset Entertainment, which won the organisational rights and is now looking at securing a TV deal. It is understood to have approached around 35 international players including Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle, Yusuf Pathan and Shahid Afridi, and most of Sri Lanka's leading cricketers.
Salaries in the league will be on the lower side; one estimate suggested three salary slabs with the highest at $30,000, which is what a mid-level player would get for each game of the IPL.
The BCCI is understood to have given the league its blessing and the tournament's timing - it will coincide with India's Test series in England - will suit India's limited-overs specialists. An Indian player, who was one of the first to be approached by the organisers, said he was made to understand that the tournament was being held with the approval of the Indian board.
"I was made an offer during last season of Ranji Trophy," the player told ESPNcricinfo. "I did not agree at the time but they [the organisers] said it is not as popular a league as the IPL so money won't be that big. We left it by saying we can talk more as the time goes. Perhaps a new offer could come after the IPL."
While the league will be a lower-profile event compared to other Twenty20 tournaments, it is likely to benefit from the fact that many players will be free from international commitments at that time. It is also likely to draw in several players who are no longer active in international cricket. Shoaib Akhtar is one player who is understood to be a certainty for the tournament and Herschelle Gibbs is also believed to have been approached.
The league will also be a boon for players from Pakistan, who currently are not part of the IPL and whose international exposure has been limited because of security issues.