The launch of Lanka Premier League in limbo

Will LPL 2020 feature foreign players, team owners and an Indian broadcast deal?

Since 2012, SLC have tried to relaunch the tournament more than half a dozen times but has been deferring for various known and unknown reasons

The launch of the much-awaited Lanka Premier League (LPL) Sri Lanka Cricket’s marquee T20 tournament is in obvious limbo owing to the current COVID-19 situation.

The biggest obstacle in launching the tournament for SLC has been the uncertainty surrounding the opening of the country’s main airport in Katunayake. Initially, the Government of Sri Lanka had planned to re-open the airport for inbound travelers on the 1st of August since closing the borders in March due to the pandemic.

However, due to the growing number of cases reported recently, the Government pushed back the opening of the airport as well as the repatriation program which was in motion. Last month, the Sports Ministry gave the go-ahead to hold the LPL from 8th to 22nd August with the hope of reopening of borders on the 1st of August.

As per a top official at SLC, planning is currently ongoing to start the competition on the 28th of August even though no proper details have come to light yet. As per certain media reports, the Government of Sri Lanka is planning to reopen the border only in September. 

Does that mean the LPL will be played without any involvement of foreign players, foreign-owned franchises, and an Indian broadcast? If so, LPL will be more or less a Provincial T20 competition.

Lankan Premier League (LPL) postponed

SLC had initially designed to conduct the tournament with the participation of five teams, with each team allowed a maximum of six foreign players in a squad and four in the playing XI. 

Last month, SLC closed the tender process for the Sports Management Agency, Television Rights, and Team Ownership with, SLC reportedly attracting a few bids. But, so far no official announcement has been made by the SLC Media Unit on the LPL. 

Another factor to consider would be the timeline in the recommencement of the SLC Major League Tier ‘A’ competition which is rescheduled to be played from 10th to 30th August, following the successful outcome from the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on the 28th July.

The Tier ‘A’ competition was due to restart on July 14th but it had to be pushed back to seek approval from the general membership to do the necessary amendments on the tournament rules.

“LPL will be held next August” – Shammi Silva

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Monday announced the postponement of the T20 World Cup which was scheduled to take place in Australia from October 18 to November 15 this year.

However, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are planning to use the recently freed-up window to play their cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) from 26th September to 8th November. Therefore, SLC will not be able to conduct its T20 tournament whilst the IPL is ongoing.  

What SLC focuses now on should be to revive international cricket in the country and make sure the Bangladesh tour goes through after they agreed to tour Sri Lanka later in the year to play the postponed three-match Test series. 

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) conducted its one and only Premier League style T20 competition, Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) in 2012. Since then, SLC has tried to relaunch the tournament more than half a dozen times but has been deferring for various known and unknown reasons. Last year, they blocked out a three-week slot in August and September from the ICC’s Future Tours Programme for the next cycle. 

Given the economic shock caused by the pandemic situation, SLC will be in a terrible fix to find local or foreign sponsors for a brand-new competition like the LPL. Is it necessary to launch the Lankan Premier League this year with so many obstacles? Only the time will tell.

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