Don’t blame India for Sri Lanka Premier League T20 failure


It has become quite fashionable these days to pin everything on the all powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). But let’s face it; the failure of the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL), which has been postponed less than two weeks before the start of the T20 tournament, was destined to fail.

Since the announcement in July last year, that Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had handed the tournament over to Somerset Entertainment Ventures (SEV), the Sri Lankan public, along with the local media, had no information about the tournament. As 2011 dawned, not even a website to promote the tournament had been created.

This, however, does take the cake:

“We don’t know who is organising it, we are yet to get formal papers about the event. We have only been reading about the SLPL in the newspapers, and about the fact that there are players from India who want to take part in it. Till date though, we haven’t received any official letter from the Sri Lankan board. There is no authentication about the tournament so far,” a top [BCCI] official said on the condition of anonymity.

The Indian official made the above comment last month. Are you surprised that even a month before the start of the tournament, SLC had not been keeping the all important BCCI in the loop? You shouldn’t be.

Today’s announcement that the SLPL, which was scheduled to start on July 19, had been postponed for next year comes after India’s refusal to allow its players to take part. But the reality is that the blame rests solely on the maladroit SLC.

Former SLC chairman Somachandra de Silva’s interim committee, now dissolved amid allegations of corruption, made the following statement on the SLC website in July last year:

Sri Lanka Cricket have signed a five year contract with Singapore based organization “Somerset Entertainment Ventures” to sponsor the Inter Provincial tournaments conducted by Sri Lanka Cricket. This include the Title Sponsorship of the tournaments, Team Sponsorship of the five Provincial Teams and the Champion Inter-Provincial T20 Team participating in the Champions League T20 Tournament (CLT 20).

The statement by SLC indicates that SEV are “sponsors” but sponsors are not the party with which international players sign contracts with, for a tournament owned and hosted by SLC. The BCCI says Indian players were required to sign contracts with SEV not SLC.

India is merely looking out for its players. They say that in the event that a dispute arises over the contract, a resolution with SEV – launched last year just prior to being awarded the tender for the tournament – will be “extremely contentious”.

Without Indian players to draw in Indian TV audiences there isn’t money to be made. The tournament now lacks what interested both SLC and SEV – the big bucks. This is perhaps why they have called the whole thing off.

The SLPL was destined to fail because, unlike India’s IPL, this tournament didn’t have the best interest of the nation’s young cricketers in mind, or the intention of developing our cricket. The government’s interim committee had hoped it would be a cash cow, which meant that very little thought was put into planning the event.

The men tasked with overseeing the organising of the SLPL – former chairman DS de Silva and former secretary Nishantha Ranatunga – are incapable of handling such a project. They have left SLC in an enormous financial crisis thanks to their bungling of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. SLC is $69 million in debt because de Silva and Ranatunga were unable to co-host the World Cup according to budget.

The government’s solution was to appoint a new interim committee with Upali Dharmadasa at the helm. The sports minister says elections will follow next year. The same kind of elections that saw Dharmadasa elected two weeks after the 1996 World Cup win. He paid off the clubs with vast sums of money for their vote and the clubs betrayed Ana Punchihewa, whose hard work as the president of the cricket board saw Sri Lanka develop rapidly, even winning a World Cup in his year at the helm. Don’t expect the promised elections, or the new interim committee, to bring in change or good governance.


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  1. No one is suggesting Lankan
    No one is suggesting Lankan cricket is of a high quality? That being said, is it any worse than India’s? BCCI’s revenues have increased exponentially over the past decade, it’s administration of cricket in India leaves a lot to be desired and corruption is still a problem there. Other cricket boards would have faced similar issues to those outlined by BCCI regarding the SLPL before the inaugaral season of the IPL. At present, SLC is a part of India’s so-called ‘Asian Block’ which allows BCCI to have it’s way in the boardroom at the ICC. BCCI knows that as long as Sri Lankan cricket remains on the verge of bankruptcy, SLC will need BCCI’s financial assistance and will therefore have no option but to remain a BCCI crony in the ICC boardroom. The SLPL is an opportunity for SLC to become financially independant of BCCI. I remain hopeful that an agreement will be reached with BCCI, and that the first season a successful and sustainable new T20 league will go ahead next year.

  2. Top post, Ryan!
    I’m glad you

    Top post, Ryan!

    I’m glad you mentioned how Dharmadasa bought votes and was elected within a couple of weeks after the world cup win in ’96. If Sumathipala does contest next year, expect the same scenario to repeat itself.

    What SLC needs now is an executive like Ana Punchihewa, who ran SLC like a ‘blue chip’ company. He is the type of professional who should be Chairman/President of SLC.

    SLPL was doomed to fail from the start: How on earth can anyone expect them to pull it off when they could not even build the three world cup stadiums on time.

    Furthermore, it’s not financially viable at all to go ahead with the tournament without Indian players. But even with them, I wonder how it would have panned out?

    I think SLPL should be cancelled. We don’t know what will happen by next August – it maybe too late to milk the potential cash cow.

  3. The former Committee was so
    The former Committee was so inefficient that we could not do a proper sale of WC tickets. Now questions are asked by ICC. They were creating a Business venture for themselves by introducing SLCL . You have seen who the company chairman is Nishantha Ranatunga. If you dig further you will find some corrupt politicians involved. We as a nation is getting alienated by everyone in the world. BCCI has already refused to send players. The tours of Austrealia & even England are in doubt as for C4. Minister is finding fault with Kumar who delivered a master piece at Lords, non of these jokers can ever think of doing. So we have now lost everything that all our cricketers build for decades. Downfall of the country in every sphere is now visible

  4. No body has to take the blame
    No body has to take the blame but fact remains that BCCI dictate what to do in today’s Cricket. Even after reversing the decision to recall players for English tour by corrupt SLC, to please decent BCCI, action by them prove their arrogance & dictatorship.

    We all know very well how corrupt are the administrators of Cricket in sub continent, not only SLC.

    It’s not a surprise, India not only dictate Sri lanka how to play cricket, but how to fish, how to handle internal affairs, how to do foreign relationships & how to govern etc. Thank you India !

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