Sri Lanka news February 15, 2016

SLC likely to scrap zonal first-class tournament

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The move to overhaul the proposed tournament has drawn criticism from the former board members who had played a role formulating it © Getty Images

The zonal first-class tournament scheduled for March and April by the previous Sri Lanka Cricket board is unlikely to go ahead this season, newly-elected SLC secretary Mohan de Silva has said. The new board affirmed its commitment to a provincial model, but were unhappy with the "composition and structure" of the proposed zonal tournament.

This means the ongoing Super Eights four-day tournament is likely to be the only first-class tournament played in Sri Lanka this season. The zonal tournament, which had been largely devised by Mahela Jayawardene, had sought to cluster clubs in five regional hubs, but that proposal is being viewed as impractical by the new SLC board.

"The elected body has always recognised the need to have a higher level of competition above club cricket," SLC secretary Mohan de Silva said. "The only thing is we were not happy with the composition and structure of the zonal tournament."

SLC now plans to devise a new provincial structure in consultation with the clubs, who own many of Colombo's cricket grounds, and wield substantial power in the board elections. With the southwest monsoon likely to arrive in May, de Silva conceded it was "very, very unlikely" that a provincial first-class competition could be held this season.

"We've made a few changes," de Silva said. "We're going to have a brainstorming session over the next month or so. We'll get all stakeholders involved and get everybody's inputs, and come up with an appropriate and pragmatic programme, in time for the next season."

This move to overhaul the proposed tournament has drawn criticism from the former board members who had played a role formulating it. They contend the tournament had been fully planned out, and that money had been set aside within the SLC budget, to implement it.

Criticism has also come from former players, including Michael Tissera, who has campaigned for the reintroduction of a provincial tournament.

"The [zonal tournament] was going to be played involving the clubs," Tissera told Sunday Times. "But again the new administration says it doesn't have the money. I think it's a load of nonsense, because according to the [previous board], the costs were budgeted in."

Many recent cricketers, including Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, have stressed the importance of provincial cricket, both as a means of improving the quality of Sri Lanka's first-class cricket, and spreading the game to the provinces.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hesh_09 on February 17, 2016, 8:10 GMT

    Talking about club cricket as being the backbone of cricket in Sri Lanka is like saying the old English Footbal League First Divsion was superior to the current English Premier League. Sport evovles and so do sporting standards. National cricketers and coaches for the last decade or more have been continuously stating time and again that the standard of first class cricket needs to improve and be more competitve. Referencing the past success of club cricket is irrelevant when the very players within the system are pointing out its deficiencies. What we are effectively doing is sending our students who just passed 10th grade standard straight into university when they should be doing their years 11-12 first. Test cricket is the university where only the very top can compete in. Enough of our current youngsters are getting found out in Test cricket. Thirimane, Vithanage, Dickwella, Kaushal. Please check their first class averages against their test averages and understand the point.

  •   Chaminda Wickremasuriya on February 17, 2016, 5:24 GMT

    Looks like Palas, Thungas and Dasas know better than Wettimunys, Tissera's, Jayawardanes and those who played the game at highest level and love the game and country, to say the least! This is what happens when countries lack policies. Instead of policies and systems run countries, people run policies and systems down! Very sad state of affairs!

  • ajithabey on February 17, 2016, 3:49 GMT

    Stop experimenting. Provincial cricket has been a total failure.A good District tournament may be a better option.Remember School cricket and Club cricket has been the cradle of cricket in Sri Lanka producing outstanding cricketers at all times

  • Litmus on February 16, 2016, 22:16 GMT

    These administrators without any cricketing knowledge are in a haste to destroy SL cricket for the personal gains.

    Sri Lanka is about to embark on a tour to UK and face Australia at home. When do these administrators going to fix the issues and strengthen cricket? At the least they should run the tournament as planned this year and then make adjustments to make it better if they must.

  • indianlankacricfan on February 16, 2016, 20:32 GMT

    when will Lanka start slpl. waiting eagerly for years

  • anuradea on February 16, 2016, 18:22 GMT

    Maybe they are saving all these money to build another stadium like dambulla, so that they can build their own houses with materials bought for the new stadium. The materials such as granite flooring, roofing, cement and sand etc.etc. Whoever wants wear the hat is welcome to do so as they know what happened during the construction of the dambulla stadium!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Cricinfouser on February 16, 2016, 12:26 GMT

    i think the problem is, these people come to power promising a lot of money through distribution of funds, the smaller clubs/associations will most likelihood lose their share if this fund is used on a new provincial tournament. I understand the smaller clubs were always against a new structure which gives them little or no relevance. these small clubs normally sell their votes on SLC elections and now the new office bearers are dancing to the tune of these clubs, they don't understand that players coming from current system are not international ready, most are worried about their own pockets.

  • Hesh_09 on February 16, 2016, 8:59 GMT

    You have two of the world's greatest players along with some truly exceptional ex-cricketers formulating a provincial first class tournament based on their experiences playing globally, but apparently administrators with no first class experience can come up with something better via 'brain storming' sessions with even more administrators from a redundant club system. The first thing the new SLC administration does when it comes into power is set up a meaningless T20 tournament and scraps a well formulated provincial first class tournament. Have they forgotten we have 3 tests vs Eng, 3 tests against Australia and another 3 against SA this year? This is pathetic. It's like Sri Lanka cricket is run by a group of 12 year olds who think T20 cricket is the way to go. This is such an insult to the Sri Lankan public. SLC go brain storm how you can get the public's trust back. #SLCrunby12yearolds #Bringbacktheinterimcommittee

  •   Shakkye Hingurangala on February 16, 2016, 2:33 GMT

    Ohh... Board is purely acting to secure there votes rather than thinking about national cricket. Clubs won't get much money and power if there aren't club level cricket. Problem in sri lanka is there too many clubs. So limited talented players scattered among them. So competition within those club level matches are way too low compared to international level. So its better to group players by administration to few teams to increase the level of competition.

  • crzcric on February 15, 2016, 17:33 GMT

    "This means the ongoing Super Eights four-day tournament is likely to be the only first-class tournament played in Sri Lanka this season". its better to play first class even there are "composition and structure" issues rather than not playing matches at all. May god help in the ENG ,AUS ,SA series. SLC sinking to the bottom. RIP SL cricket

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