Sri Lanka plan Lanka Premier League in August
With IPL and The Hundred in limbo, leading overseas players might be available for an LPL
Sri Lanka Cricket is looking at starting up a T20 league in August, even as uncertainty continues to cloud inbound tours from India and Bangladesh.
Various SLC boards have tried repeatedly to get a major T20 tournament off the ground and failed. But with Sri Lanka having managed the Covid-19 crisis better than many other nations so far, SLC believes it has an opportunity this year to safely host a tournament with significant foreign involvement, while other leagues are struggling to draw overseas talent.
SLC CEO Ashley de Silva is understood to have written to other boards about the prospect of a Lankan Premier League (LPL), while foreign players have also been approached.
Tournament planning, though, remains in its very preliminary stages, with no official announcement having yet come from the board. At present, SLC is working on the theory that LPL may feature five teams and could last a little over three weeks. It could start around mid-August and go into early September, but its feasibility will not only depend on corporate and sponsor interest - SLC has already called for expressions of interest - but also on the viability of the other series scheduled.
It is also trying to get India over for three ODIs and T20Is each and Bangladesh over for three Tests, while also hoping to host the Asia Cup in September.
The one strength that the board is banking on is that from August, foreign players, support staff and broadcast personnel will not be required to undergo a long quarantine upon arrival in Sri Lanka. Instead, they will just be required to return two negative Covid-19 results - one shortly before boarding their flights in their respective countries for which a certificate must be produced and another soon after arriving in Sri Lanka. And while new arrivals will be quarantined during the testing and result process, it is not expected to take more than 24 hours.
An SLC official confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that government approval had been granted not just for a potential LPL, but also for the India, Bangladesh and Asia Cup tours. The official described the tentative plan for the LPL as "ambitious", but said the board was moving ahead with the hopes of putting a tournament together in the space of about two months. Sri Lanka's own top players are likely to be in match condition, with residential training camps having begun in Colombo from the start of June.
SLC, though, has never had success hosting a premier league-style tournament. The board has tried at least six times and only once managed to actually get a tournament going - the 2012 Sri Lanka Premier League, which was sparsely attended and later attracted allegations of corruption.
There is a chance that with the likes of the IPL and The Hundred in limbo due to Covid-19, leading overseas players are likelier to make themselves more available for an LPL. However, SLC is still some distance from getting a tournament together.