Sri Lanka news November 13, 2015

SLC announces domestic cricket overhaul

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Mahela Jayawardene has spearheaded the creation of 'Elite Championship', the new city-based domestic structure © AFP

Sri Lanka Cricket has announced an overhaul of domestic cricket, which features three city-based tournaments that will be launched in the upcoming season.

The 2015-16 season will also feature a four-day, 50-over and Twenty20 tournament based out of five regional hubs, in addition to the club-based premier tournaments which will continue as usual. The new city-based structure, titled the 'Elite Championship' aims to decentralise Sri Lanka's cricket from Colombo, and distill talent to ensure a sterner level of domestic competition.

According to SLC officials, the plan for the Elite Championship was "spearheaded" by Mahela Jayawardene. The interim committee, which took over in early April, has made the overhaul of the domestic system a priority of their administration, which is set to end in January - before any of the new tournaments are played. It is hoped the new structure will help better identify and foster provincial talent.

"Today, the bulk of our cricketers are coming from the outstations," SLC chairman Sidath Wettimuny said. "We've got to encourage these cricketers to remain in their home territory and play. Everybody doesn't need to come to Colombo. We're taking cricket out to them and providing them with what they need."

The five Elite Championship teams will be based out of stadiums in Pallekele, Dambulla, Hambantota, Galle and Khettarama, and will take the names of the nearest major urban centre (Kandy, Kurunegala, Hambantota, Galle and Colombo respectively).

"Historically and geographically, these are the cities that have brought cricket to the level it is now," SLC cricket operations manager Carlton Bernardus said. "The advantage also is that the facilities in these regions cater to the game."

By fielding only five teams, SLC aims to concentrate the talent in its domestic pool, in order to better prepare domestic cricketers for the international level. The Premier League first-class tournament, which features 14 club sides, has been criticised by players and administrators for being bloated, and as such, producing relatively-low quality cricket.

Each Elite Championship team will be assigned SLC coaches and support staff. Romesh Kaluwitharana, Nuwan Zoysa, Piyal Wijetunge, Roy Dias and Avishka Gunawardene have been identified as head coaches for the five teams. SLC said it was also in the process of advertising for managers, and assigning trainers and physios for each side. The Elite Championship support staff will be advised and overseen by the national coaches in Colombo.

Existing clubs have also been given an administrative role to play in the Elite Championship. The top clubs have been split into five clusters, each of which has then been assigned an Elite Championship side. For example, Sinhalese Sports Club, Badureliya Cricket Club, Ragama Cricket Club along with several other clubs have been clustered with the Colombo team.

"We will get the support of the clubs and the district associations to run the tournament," Bernardus said. "The tournament will tap into the facilities and infrastructure which the clubs have."

A new player-payments structure has also been announced for the Elite Championship tournaments. Seventy-five players (15 per team) will be signed up for these tournaments, and those who play will receive 20,000 rupees per day for the Elite Championship four-day tournament, 25,000 rupees per 50-over match, and 15,000 rupees per T20 game.

The Elite Championship T20 tournament is set to be the first of the city-based tournaments to be played: it is scheduled from January 26 to February 5 - ahead of the World T20. The Elite Championship four-day tournament is scheduled for March and April 2016. The teams are scheduled to play a round-robin, before two sides progress to the final.

The club-based Premier League Tournament is still set to take the largest part of the domestic calendar. That tournament features seven three-day group fixtures for each of the 14 sides, before the top eight teams split off to play four rounds of four-day cricket, known as the Super Eights phase. Club-based 50-over and T20 tournaments are also scheduled.

SLC has sought to persist with the club structure instead of doing away with it in favour of the new tournaments for two major reasons. First, the clubs control much of the existing domestic infrastructure and facilities, including coaches, equipment and grounds. Secondly, the clubs also wield substantial constitutional power, via SLC votes.

Any moves to marginalise the clubs would have effectively killed the city-based tournament at its inception. At any rate, with SLC elections scheduled for January, the clubs would likely have elected candidates promising to return the club tournaments to their historical place - as the centrepiece of Sri Lanka's domestic season. Playing the Elite Championship after the Premier League tournament is seen as a sort of compromise.

SLC has previously held provincial tournaments that sought to concentrate domestic talent. However, those tournaments had been administered directly by SLC, from Colombo. The Elite Championship aims to herald a greater devolution of power. It is hoped that district associations and the club clusters will administer the week-to-week affairs of each team, and that these teams will only be broadly overseen by SLC. It is also hoped that this devolution of powers brings with it grassroots support from fans in the various cities, as well as organic development of cricketers at each hub.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ted on November 16, 2015, 15:59 GMT

    FC averages of some Colombo originated youngsters (batsmen), who were lucky enough to win spots straightaway in National side, despite playing under 40 FC matches in domestic scene & having batting averages ranging from 24 to 39:

    1) Shehan Jayasuriya: 38 matches/ 2,475 runs/ 39.91 Av 2) Kusal Mendis: 11 matches/ 511 runs/ 30.05 Av 3) Dhanushka Gunathilake: 31 matches / 1,269 runs / 24.40 Av

    One example of an outstanding youngster (batting all-rounder with 44 Av) bloomed from outstation area, who was not even selected for SL-A squad that toured NZ (despite scoring heavily against South Africa Emerging Players in August):

    Rumesh Buddika: 42 matches/ 2,797 runs/ 44.39 Av - 7 tons - 13 fifty plus

    One more thing, RoyalThora are you seriously considering the recent WI-series as a milestone :D ? Don't forget, what happened in WC-quarter finals. Don't you think it is too early to predict the sustainability of newfound talent? NZ new-balls waiting for KJP :)

  • Pasan on November 16, 2015, 13:18 GMT

    @ANDREW-SILVA, of course Kusal WAS classified as one of the most inconsistent openers, but not anymore. In 2015 his average is 42 off 10 matches at a strike rate of 114.44 In fact he was the man of the series of the last ODI series against WI. And won two man of the match awards in the last Pak series (in the two matches SL won). So you need to update your database as soon as possible. lol.

  • d on November 16, 2015, 9:29 GMT

    @UT fan: Name me five batsman (outside capital)who are having better records than current SL players. (Not asking about former players). Who are still playing our mediocre domestic matches to a considerable amount but could not get chances to play for SL.Then I'll support your plea. btw i don't understand how you compare a player who played 150 Odis with players who played 7 and 1 Odi respectively. That sounds like our selectors.

  • Pawan on November 16, 2015, 4:46 GMT

    Devolution of power should start from opening the doors to former outstation players who played for SL, to represent important committees such as SELECTIONS. Just look at the composition & collective international career experiences of current selection committee. Not a single representative in the committee, originated from outside Capital district.. why?

    I wonder how anyone could expect, a decent process productive to the nation & fairness to players island-wide, when clearly the nucleus is surrounded by Capital district orbits?

    When appointing important committees to serve the Nation's prime sport, it should have a balanced representation & substantial collective experience at international level to handle the job properly & fairly. But sadly, both factors are missing in current Selection Committee. Humiliating series losses repeatedly happened at national level & SL-A in all formats, at a rate never seen before (at least not for a decade).. Inconsistent treatment? policies?

  • Nimmie on November 16, 2015, 3:54 GMT

    federation that spend hudge sums of money to compete with the Game which has been well established &with a clear international recognition. As a result spectator turnout for Cricket matches has become very low.This unhealthy scenario for Cricket was started after the retirement of Sportsmen/politician JR Jayawardene from politics, who was a Cricketer & a Rugby captain of Royal College. Popularity of Cricket started to diminished because the most of the politician that came after '77 haven't had any clear vision rather lacks sporting background, required of a politician. The local media personnel too doesn't have any national interest to develop the Game most suited for our country, since of late, they aren't prepared to do anything without something, as a result most fans are clueless about the skills and capabilities of our young promising Cricketers, that may have caused, the fans of other countries to beleive our Cricket would be finished After Mahela, Sangakara,Dilshan & Herath.

  • Nimmie on November 16, 2015, 1:49 GMT

    Whether it's a complete overhaul or not what is really needed for the country is to keep all promising young Cricketers i.e. who left school since 2007 engaged in every 365 days[ not only the players in the 1st XI team ] of the year as it has been happening before 2010. They should be given sufficient incentives to be in the Game as they do in India. Officials who came after 2010 thought, spending some money on few senior players & the balance part on their own welfare out of the money earned by the national Cricketers is all about administration. After all, we have the World's best junior Cricketers, thanks to our stable school Cricket structure, which has been there for well over 100 years, the winning of every U-15 International t'ments held in Malaysia, since 2000 is a very clear proof for that despite that the local media & the principals of all leading schools try to bring another game (a game which is not suited for small made Asians) up to satisfy the officials of another

  • Pinidiya on November 15, 2015, 13:05 GMT

    (Up to mediocre WI series on our backyard) Struggling Performances of all SL batters at Opening spot since Aug 2013 when Tharanga's career as Opener was put on hold for no justified reason.

    UT was given just ONE ODI to Open out of 61 ODIs SL played up to Oct 2015:

    - KJP : 47 in - 1,110 r @ 25 Av - 90 SR- 2x100- 5x50

    - Thiri : 12 in - 382 r @ 34 Av - 74 SR - 1x100 - 2x50

    - Dimuth : 07 in - 99 r @ 16 Av - 61 SR - 1x50

    - Dickwella : 01 in- 04 r @ 4 Av - 40 SR

    - Tharanga* : 151 in - 5,001 r @ 34 Av - 74 SR - 13x100 -25x50

    - *Opportunity deprived resourceful UT's stats as Opener:

    Recently KJP was classified as the most inconsistent Opener in the world since his debut & almost 50% of his ended under 10 r & 10 b including 8 Ducks: KJP (19 in - 69 r @ 3 Av -55 SR).

    As an Opener: Only Thiri managed to maintain 34 Av in his 12 in (UT's 34 Av MAINTAINED over 150 in).

    The question is WHY are they holding Tharanga's career for 2+ yrs..?

  • Pinidiya on November 15, 2015, 12:34 GMT

    Domestic FC records WITHOUT Tests (5 day Tests provide the benefit to play longer innings): * Non-Colombo.

    -*Sanga: 159 in - 11 NO - 5981 r - 40 Av (Test Av 57) -*Dilly : 239 in - 13 NO - 8487 r - 38 Av (Test Av 41) -*Sanath: 231 in - 19 NO - 7846 r - 37 Av (Test Av 40) - Mahela: 131 in - 9 NO - 6024 r - 49 Av (Test Av 49) -*Tharanga: 158 in - 6 NO - 6229 r - 41 Av (This lad was given Just 21 random Tests spread over 10 yrs with 7 y layoff & another 1 y layoff resulted in overall Test Av 30 ).

    Recalled after 7 y & given just 4 consecutive Tests Vs formidable SA & Pk in 2014 Jul-Aug, where he scored impressive 306 r @ 38 Av with a Match Winning 92 & 45 V Pk & another 83 to V SA, to be dropped immediately for another year, affecting his progress. In the 1st opportunity given this year, he scored valuable 46 & 48 V Pk to be dropped immediately again for next 2 Tests, shattering his confidence. THIS IS THE CLEAR FATE OF VILLAGE BATTER, UNDER CURRENT SYSTEM in SL!

  • sachit on November 15, 2015, 12:02 GMT

    @KINGOWL - yes. A complete overhaul would be the best option like identify the more successful clubs and grant them some elite status while the other clubs input players to the major clubs. Most of the clubs have little or no fan following (if Cricket clubs had the same following rugby clubs have locally that would be a huge victory) and if it's possible to pull it off that would be excellent. But since that is not possible for the moment this has to be the closest alternative.

  • Luckwin on November 15, 2015, 6:57 GMT

    Ideology of SLC is adorable but yet again they need to implement a minor system to develop cricket in North and East.

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