By Srian Obeyesekere
King Cricket cannot have it any better in Sri Lanka! Fresh on the heels of the Shammi Silva administration padding up for a new 2-year term by the overwhelming popular demand of the country’s cricket clubs, the game came alive yesterday in what was the first major assignment by Sri Lanka Cricket’s new term of office bearers with the official announcement of what has come to be the virtual backbone fanning big stage international cricket that has enveloped the country’s cricketing periphery enriching local talent from the very grassroots courtesy the Lanka Premier League (LPL).
The first value in gold package that has descended on world cricket in robing the game in all its thunder through the now famous Indian Premier League (IPL) that has become a window version to Sri Lanka was fittingly the ideal trumpeting show of strength for the greater good of Sri Lankan cricket, and the first salvo at that fired by Sri Lanka Cricket at it’s detractors when it’s dynamic Hony General Secretary, Mohan de Silva, who is immensely immersed with the arithmetics of the game having played cricket first hand for SSC, chaired yesterday’s press briefing. “We expect it to be at it’s best this year. We are expecting 2.7 million this year,” he said. His optimism was on a high given the current all clear ground work to this year’s fourth LPL following setbacks to the inaugural edition in 2020 which was impaired by the COVID-19.
The SLC Secretary’s optimism was echoed in no uncertain terms by Founder and CEO of the IPG Group, Anil Mohan representing the Event Rights Holders when he said, “We expect it to be at it’s best this year. We want to make it the No.1 in the world. So many positives will come this year. We are going to bring in the crowds this year.”
Mohan de Silva noted that there had been a subsequent increase of 11 per cent following the early losses in it’s first year when tickets could not be sold due to the raging Corona havoc. “But today, the LPL had found the faith of the oversees players which was one of the biggest positives to taking it forward. The player pre-signing would cover US $ 500,000. The first stage of the tournament with be in Colombo at Khettarama and thereafter in Pallekelle with the final stage at Khettarama,” he said.
An on the ball Tournament Director, Samantha Dodanwala spelt out that the hosting of the entire event with five participating teams would cover over Rs. 600 million in Sri Lankan rupees. “It will carry a winner takes all prize money of US $ 100,000 and runners-up US $ 50,000.There will be a permissible total squad of 24 members and mandatory six internationals and maximum of 19 domestic and minimum of 14 domestic,” he said.
As to the crowd intake last year, the Tournament Director said, “Last year when we opened the gates there were large crowds. It indicated that they had before that not come because of financial constraints.”
Some of the international players lined up included Roger Miller, Mathew Hayden, Bab Azam among several others.
SLC’s Chief Executive Officer, Ashley de Silva, responding to a question as to hosting the mega tournament, said, “We have signed an agreement with our partner,”
The player direct singing budget will be US $ 500,000 and auction purse budget US $ 500,000 end a team’s salary cap will be limited to US $ 1,000,000