By Roshan Abeysinghe
Sri Lanka cricket and its cricketers are definitely in for some exciting times in July with the proposed Sri Lanka Premier League happening. The sponsoring company Somerset entertainment has unquestionably done a lot of hard work to make the event a success.
The fact that many leading foreign players intend to participate in the tournament despite protests from certain quarters in the country is sure to kindle the interest levels. With the participation of the foreign players along with the top stars of Sri Lanka, the huge attention from TV net works is bound to create a very positive awareness of the domestic cricket scene in Sri Lanka along with the much needed exposure to our first class cricketers! It could definitely be a gateway to the out side world for the talented first class cricketer in Sri Lanka on the lines of the recognition the Australians have received. Looking around the combination of teams in the IPL many unheard but quality Australian cricketers have been picked by franchises. One may ask as to how the information on these cricketers was received. Firstly most franchises have Australian coaches and secondly the domestic cricket of Australia which is on television, is accessed easily around the world. Hence the demand for the Australian first class cricketer has been derived!
I believe that cricketers out side the national team and some top quality first class cricketers such as Indika De Saram, Jeewantha Kulathunga, Kaushalya Weeraratne, Chinthaka Jayasinghe, Dilhara Lokuhettige and Hasantha Fernando to name a few could still have an opportunity of a retirement bonus if they are able to carry out something special in the SLPL, thereby nudging the decision makers of the more lucrative IPL to take a serious look at them! Surely there is still a lot of potential in those names. It was only last week that De Saram scored a century and a near half century against a strong Chilaw Marians bowling attack.
Also what about the young brigade of Sri Lanka cricket? Gihan Rupesinghe, Bhanuka Rajapakse, Dilshan Munaweera, Ramith Rambukkwella, Dinuk Karunaratne, Yashoda Lanka and Rumesh Buddika surely cricketers for the future and they too will have the opportunity to stamp their mark in the big league!
With all these advantages and positives making the back drop of this proposed tournament attractive, I believe Sri Lanka cricket has run in to a huge snag with the timing! The SLPL is scheduled to commence on the 16th July and go on up to the first week of August. However at the corresponding time the Sri Lanka A team will be touring England and sixteen of our best talent including some youngsters are bound to be on that tour! This would mean a huge opportunity lost for these young players to announce themselves to the world and also to stake claim for the next years’ T 20 world cup to be staged in Sri Lanka. Surely it is an opportunity that can not be missed from a player’s point of view. True representing one’s country is paramount and I am a very strong believer and a defender of that fact. However for the cricketers outside the National team an opportunity that SLPL presents could be a once in a few years opening, a miss they will rue for a long time. Also I wonder knowing and understanding the player mentality, whether the team will be focused enough in England with a tournament of the magnitude of the SLPL happening back home. The IPL has showcased the unknown Indian player who has turned out to be a hero almost over night. Surely it is the dream of every player leave alone youngsters. Hence this issue needs to be addressed by the authorities to ensure that the best of Sri Lanka will be in action and the world will be able to take note of them.