East West Marketing have agreed to sponsor the Schools Invitation XI, which has enabled them to participate in the inaugural Sri Lanka Telecom inter-provincial Twenty20 tournament in Colombo and Kurunegala from April 17 to May 1.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) sources said if no sponsor had come forward, they wouldn't have been in a position to put together a schools side for this tournament. East West Marketing is headed by K Mathivanan, the secretary of SLC interim committee.
The team, captained by Dinesh Chandimal comprises eight cricketers from the 2008 Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia, including Janith Perera, Chathuranga de Silva, Udara Jayasundara, Angelo Perera, Imesh Udayanga, Chathura Pieris and Naveen Kavikara. Three other schoolboy cricketers, who were also members of the U-19 World Cup squad will represent the other provinces. World Cup captain Ashan Priyanjan will play for Ruhuna, Thisara Perera for Wayamba and Sachith Pathirana for Kadurata.
When questioned whether it was the right idea to invite a schools eleven to play in a Twenty20 tournament, Sidath Wettimuny, the provincial committee chairman and member of the interim committee said: "We decided to invite a schools eleven to give the boys the opportunity to compete with the best players in the country. How best they will benefit from it only time will tell.
"We take pride in saying that five cricketers who played in the inter-provincial limited-overs tournament have made it to the national team. We have moved ahead by appointing provincial coaches and managers and we are in the process of developing the infrastructure at the five provinces so that there is less migration of cricketers to Colombo."
Wettimuny further stated some of the sponsors have come forward in providing employment to the cricketers. "These are good signs that the inter-provincial tournament is gaining momentum," he told journalists at a press conference held at the SLC headquarters in Colombo yesterday.
Representatives of the sponsors were also present at the conference namely, E-wis who sponsor Basnahira North, Lexmark - Basnahira South, MasHoldings - Kandurata, Hirdaramani Group - Ruhunu, Lanka Bell - Wayamba and EastWest Marketing - Schools Invitation XI.
The tournament will lose some of its gloss with the absence of the national players who are currently touring the West Indies. But Wettimuny pointed out that their absence gives an opportunity for others to display their potential and come into the limelight.
He said the inter-provincial league, comprising four-day matches, is slotted for January 2009.
Schools Invitation XI: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Janith Perera (vice-capt), Chathuranga de Silva, Udara Jayasundara, Angelo Perera, Imesh Udayanga, Chathura Pieris, Naveen Kavikara, MTT Fernando, Nipun Karunanayaka, Nadun Pathirana, Jayampathi Perera, Vindo Perera, Danushka Gunatilake, Lahiru Jayaratne.