As the SLC Premier League Tournament 2016/17 is set to begin this week with the rain easing off, we take a look at the 14 individuals who will be leading the Tier A cricket clubs in Sri Lanka.
Kithruwan Vithanage – Tamil Union C and AC
The ‘Naughty Boy’ of Sri Lanka Cricket, 25-year old Kithruwan Vithanage has been allowed to play domestic cricket even though he was suspended in July for ill-discipline by SLC. One of the most-cleanest strikers of the cricket ball, Vithanage will be itching to make a mark this season by scoring runs while leading the defending champions this season. He holds the unique record of scoring the 200th triple century in first-class cricket as well.
Ashan Priyanjan – CCC
The right-handed middle order batsman who has represented Sri Lanka in 23 ODIs last donned the national jersey in 2015 against Pakistan. He led Sri Lanka Ports Authority CC last season and since their demotion to Tier B, Priyanjan switched to Colombo Cricket Club this season hoping for better returns. He had a forgettable 2015/16 season scoring only 243 runs in 9 matches at 18.69 but has an overall average of 37.11 in 88 first-class matches.
Lahiru Thirimanne – Ragama CC
The stylish left-handed batsman will be the cynosure of all eyes this season as he is trying to return to form. After a rather poor 18 months with the bat in the international scene, Thirimanne was left out of the national set up for almost 6 months now. He had an average tenure with Sri Lanka A against West Indies A last month and will look to set aside everything and get some runs under his belt.
Dimuth Karunarathne – SSC
Currently, Sri Lanka’s best Test opening batsman has been bestowed with the responsibility of leading the star-studded SSC outfit for yet another season. Since leaving St. Joseph’s College in 2008, Karunarathne has been playing for SSC and has amassed over 8000 runs in close to 120 matches. He will be on national duty for most of the season but will look to continue his good form attained from the Zimbabwe tour where he was named the Man of the Series.
Farveez Maharoof – NCC
One of the most underrated all-rounders of this generation, Maharoof returned to the international scene in July in England after a stellar domestic season in 2015/16 as well as captaining his club to the SLC Limited-overs championship. His leadership qualities and invaluable experiences on the cricket field will be the key to NCC’s campaign this season as well.
Kosala Kulasekara – Moors SC
31-year old former Sri Lankan all-rounder will lead a young Moors outfit this year as the core of their last year’s team switched to different clubs. Kulasekara has immense experience of 1 Test, 4 ODIs for Sri Lanka and 105 first-class matches. He had an injury-plagued 2015/16 season but will look to better his numbers of 188 wickets and 3851 runs in the upcoming domestic season.
Seekkuge Prasanna – Army SC
The hard-hitting leg-spinning all-rounder has been a loyal servant of Sri Lanka Army SC since his first-class debut in 2006. He will be out of action for the first couple of matches due to his commitments in the BPL (Bangladesh Premier League) but will be a force to reckon, especially in the shorter formats of the game. He grabbed 31 wickets and scored 348 runs in 7 first-class matches last season.
Dilruwan Perera – Colts CC
After an excellent season with the national team during the last couple of months, the right-arm off-spinner will be looking to use all his international experience to great effect in the coming season. Colts have appointed another experienced campaigner, Nuwan Kulasekara to lead the team once Perera is occupied with national duty.
Mahela Udawatte – Chilaw Marians CC
The top left-hander has returned to the club where he made his first-class debut a decade ago. Udawatte was the pioneer batsman for Moors SC last season amassing 894 in 9 games at 63.85 to end up as the third highest run-getter in the Premier League Tournament. With the experience of 125 first-class matches, he has not represented Sri Lanka for 9 years but earlier this year toured England with the ‘A’ team.
Harsha Vithana – BRC
The 31-year old diminutive right-handed batsman has been contracted by the newly-promoted Burgher Recreation Club this season. Vithana, a former Sri Lanka U19 Captain was a part of the victorious Colts CC outfit in 2011/12 which won the Premier League title. He stroked 612 runs in 9 matches for Galle CC last season and will look to bring vast experience of 94 first-class games into play this season.
Alankara Asanka – Badureliya CC
A vastly experienced right-arm off-spinner, Asanka had a modest 2015/16 with the ball taking only 10 wickets from 7 matches representing Saracens SC. This season, a new challenge of captaincy awaits the talented spinner who even went onto play one unofficial ODI for Sri Lanka against the touring Windies last month.
Harsha Cooray – Saracens SC
33-year old right-handed middle order batsman captained the Saracens team last season as well. Former Lumbini College batsman stroked 364 runs in 12 innings in 2015/16 mustering only 3 fifties. With over 100 first-class matches, Cooray will look to lead the revamped Saracens SC outfit to glory this season.
Sajeewa Weerakoon – Galle CC
The most senior captain in the league, Weerakoon will act in his dual role – Captain and Coach of the Galle CC team this season. With over 1000 domestic wickets and a couple of ODI’s under his belt, 38-year old Weerakoon will look to use his experience to steer the Galle CC ship this season.
Nipun Karunanayake – Bloomfield C & AC
25-year old former Nalandian who lead his alma mater in 2009 is a terrific young left-handed batsman who could also bowl some leg-spin. Fondly known as Pancha, Karunanayake has been playing his first-class cricket only at Bloomfield C & AC for the last half a decade to aggregate 1744 runs in 44 matches. He made just over 300 runs in 9 games last season at an average of 38.