By Srian Obeyesekere
Ana Punchihewa, the former president of Sri Cricket (SLC) which was known as the Board of Control for Cricket in 1995-96 when Sri Lanka created history by winning the cricket world cup, said that he strongly believed that the upcoming Lanka Premier League would become a popular 20-20 tournament in Sri Lanka in the next two to three years. “I believe that the LPL would progressively become a big draw in Sri Lanka in the next 2 to 3 years,” he said speaking to SLC’s website www.srilankacricket.lk.
The former cricket board president further commented that the Indian Premier League had proved to be the world’s most populous and commercially viable tournament in two years since it was launched. “We too should follow the same example as the IPL to reap success and I believe it will also open a window to driving tourism in Sri Lanka,” Punchihewa opined while adding that the live telecast leveraged by the Dubai based television network would also serve in swelling Sri Lanka’s earnings through such an initiative by the accruing related TV sponsorships viewership.
He went on to observe that besides attracting Sri Lankans that the live telecast of the historic LPL to be staged on November 26 would also attract cricket lovers in India as well and in Bangladesh and Pakistan. As much cricket lovers, who are presently confined to their homes due to the COVID 19 epidemic, would be eagerly waiting to catch the action of this historic LPL extravaganza to be staged at Hambantota on November 26 which would be a landmark occasion in the country’s cricket.
Punchihewa further commented that although only one Sri Lankan cricketer participated in this year’s IPL tournament that concluded this week, that a large number of Sri Lankans had viewed the action. Similarly, Sri Lankan cricket fans will be expectantly awaiting to catch the live action of the Lanka Premier League .
He also believed that Sri Lanka should not only look at the financial gains from the LPL. Primarily the mega tournament would serve in nourishing our young latent talent in further developing their game through the experience they would gain by playing alongside and against popular international players and the finer points of the game they would impart. Accordingly, Sri Lanka could derive a similar success as the IPL through the LPL initiative. Today, there were a large number of young players who had been discovered to Indian cricket through the IPL. Similarly, the LPL was the best opportunity for young Lankan players to showcase their talents and make it to the international stage.
The former cricket board president stressed that since his tenure as president in the 1990’s up to now the game had undergone vast changes for the better. Today, the 20-20 format was very popular. The contest between bat and ball had become spellbindingly fast paced while officiating of the sport had also undergone tremendous change.
He also believed that the current COVID 19 impasse should not be a detrimental factor in the staging of matches of the upcoming LPL. The recent success in the staging of the IPL was the best motivating factor to take a leaf from to forge the successful staging of the LPL in Sri Lanka.