The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association has decided to launch its own franchise-based Twenty20 competition to tap into talent from the districts and make up for the absence of high-profile matches in Chennai.
The Tamil Nadu Premier League, which is likely to be an eight-team event, has been tentatively scheduled from end of August to mid-September this year. It will feature players registered with the state association.
"We are not having [any matches] so we thought, 'okay, let us do this for our boys.' T20 has become the order of the day, whether you like it or not. So we wanted to jump into the bandwagon," Kasi Viswanathan, the TNCA secretary, told ESPNcricinfo. "The details [of tender process] will be finalised by the end of April, and the matches will be played in two venues - Chennai and Dindigul. It will be a great opportunity to improve infrastructure within the districts."
N Srinivasan, the TNCA president, is understood to have shot down a proposal for such a league three years ago. It is believed his green signal for the league, which will be modeled on the Karnataka Premier League, could be a small step towards making himself more relevant in the larger context.
TNCA officials have murmured privately about how the current BCCI dispensation has been vindictive towards Srinivasan, the former board president and ICC chairman, by allotting four non-televised Women's World T20 matches to Chennai. With Chennai Super Kings also serving a two-year suspension from the IPL, the MA Chidambaram Stadium hasn't had any top-flight cricket in recent times.
L Balaji, Tamil Nadu bowling coach-cum-player, said such a league would be a boon for players from outside Chennai. "Most of the time they [cricketers from the districts] don't have much exposure before they play at the state level. A professional league such as this would bridge the gap," he said. "This would also give the selectors access to talent that may not always be spotted."
The state association has also introduced a T20 tournament for Chennai's competitive first-division league teams in May. "It is a good sign for Tamil Nadu cricket; cricketers of other state have been benefiting from these kind of leagues," Balaji said. "We have passionate corporate support for the last 50-60 years and our cricket history is much stronger compared to many other states, so we definitely deserve a league. We don't always play a lot of T20 matches in Chennai. Such leagues will help us in preparing better for domestic T20 competitions."
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun