The Indian Premier League received a boost as top Sri Lankan cricketers including Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara signed on. Although it will ultimately be down to various franchises to sign players onto their rolls, the latest announcement from Lalit Modi, the convenor of the IPL, makes it clear that these players are on board and available to be hired.
The signings of these players, along with Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Farveez Maharoof and Nuwan Zoysa is the latest move from the IPL, which already announced that players like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Stephen Fleming had expressed their interest to get on board.
"We at the IPL are committed to enticing an entire new generation of sports fans into the grounds by showcasing some of the best cricketing talent on offer from the world over. It is in line with this philosophy that we have signed eight of the current Sri Lankan squad," Modi said while announcing the signings. "We are also in talks with some of the finest players in the international cricketing arena. I promise Indian fans that the IPL will truly be one of the finest cricketing leagues anywhere in the world."
Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, though likely to play county cricket in England, will take part in the IPL before the English domestic season begins. Speaking on behalf of the Sri Lankan players who joined the league, Jayawardene said, "Twenty20 cricket is an exciting new format for both cricket players and fans. We are all thrilled to be joining the IPL, an innovative venture that has the potential to fuel cricket's growth around the world during the coming years. We are looking forward to making our mark in the league."
These players who have signed on will be part of a central pool of "designated players," that each of the franchises can choose from. Designated players constitute international cricketers from India and abroad. Each franchise can field a maximum of four such designated players while four other players will have to come from the under-21 age-group from the catchment areas around the home city in which a home team is based.
The IPL is scheduled for an April 2008 launch and will feature eight franchises in the first season, with each team playing seven home and away games against one another. At the end of the a 56-game regular season, the top four teams will then face off in the semi-finals which will culminate in a grand final. The IPL hopes to grow the eight franchises to 16 by 2010.