Sri Lankan first-class season from January 20
The Sri Lankan first-class season will begin on January 20, a Sri Lanka Cricket official has said. The first-class Premier Tier A and B league matches had been postponed indefinitely last month, in part because of a lack of funds to run the tournament. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) then had to wait until a new committee was in place, following the elections on January 3, to resolve the situation.
"Most of the tournaments had been stopped because the elections were on and the committee was changing," K Mathivanan, the newly elected vice-president, told ESPNcricinfo. "From January 20 we are starting the Premier League tournament. Funding is there. That assurance we will give the clubs."
Mathivanan said that getting the first-class season off the ground was the first priority for the new president, Upali Dharmadasa. The decision is expected to be ratified by the executive committee today.
One casualty of the delay is the provincial four-day tournament - an irregularly scheduled tournament to begin with, it will not be held this season. However, the one-day and Twenty20 tournaments will go ahead in light of Sri Lanka hosting the ICC World Twenty20 in September 2012, Mathivanan said.
SLC are facing a financial crisis in the aftermath of building two new stadiums for the 2011 World Cup and renovating a third. The shortage of funds has affected their operations across the board, with the players still owed roughly half their dues since the World Cup final in April. Dharmadasa has said that it will take the board four or five years to get back to a sound financial footing.
The SLC pays 2.7 million Sri Lankan rupees to each of the 11 Tier A clubs and 2.3 million to each of the 10 Tier B clubs per season. The clubs utilise this money to pay the players, ground fees, fund practice sessions and food, among other things. The clubs were paid 30% of their dues for the Premier limited-overs tournament that concluded in December 2011, and had said that unless at least 60% of the balance is paid, they would find it difficult to play the first-class matches.
Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo