Proposed changes in club cricket format runs into heavy weather
Speculation is rife that Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is contemplating on reshuffling its top premier domestic tournament for good. According to reliable information Sri Lanka’s First Class tournament will be cropped down to a 14-team competition replacing the two-tiered format which features 20 teams. While a good number of hands are in favour of the change, there are many who oppose to this possible alteration. They suspect that this possible change is a result of favouration and petrifaction of the amount of talent that is coming out from the outstations.
If the intended comes into act, possibly for the next season, many cricket playing clubs, especially the smaller ones fear that their existence in the cricket scene will be doubtful. Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), which replaced a frayed Seeduwa/Raddoluwa Cricket Club, is one such team that will feel the depths of this possible change if it comes into effect. The SLPA cricket club’s general secretary, Nalin Aponso detailed their grievances.
“Overall SLPA is a major facilitator of sports in the country. We have been involved with volleyball, netball, billiards and snooker and even have provided employment to many sports personalities. We have not got the opportunity to promote cricket in a big way until 2008, when our top management decided to recruit some top first class cricketers in order to build a strong team. During our initiative time Suraj Randiv was one of the employees at SLPA. Like that we recruited many top class cricketers and even went on to win the Tier B one-day championship last season. But what we are getting to hear is not so healthy. At a time when we are putting our fullest efforts to promote and help cricket as a government establishment, it’s saddening to hear that SLC is planning out to reorder the tournament. If it’s a policy decision taken by SLC we have to respect it but still it’s not fair by all the teams as all 20 teams have not being looked into equally. If that occurs regrettably we will have to rethink of our contributions to the sport as our aim is to play first class cricket,” said Aponso.
Another stalwart of cricket, Neil Perera, who served as a secretary when SLC was the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) was fiery with the new development which is yet to trigger. He is also a patron of Panadura Sports Club for many decades.
“I was ‘thoroughly shaken’ when I heard that SLC is planning to change the domestic format. I was one of the people who attempted to promote cricket in the outstations since 1960. Unlike those days SLC is run by a set of lackeys who look into other benefits. If this is implemented, then SLC is doing an absolute injustice to small cricket playing clubs at top level, especially the ones from the outstations. You cannot suddenly change a decision overnight in favour of few clubs based in Colombo,” charged Perera (82) who also served as an executive committee member at BCCSL for 25 years.
The effect that infuriated these clubs is suspected to be the mode the SLC is going to pick the 14 teams for the proposed format. The ‘endangered’ clubs claim that SLC is single-handedly displaying favouritism over picking Nondescript Cricket Club (NCC) which is subjected for relegation next season after a bad season. Interestingly NCC has over ten Sri Lanka players in the side but due to national commitment none of them have played a domestic tournament at full during the recent past. But the grieved party justify the inclusion of Army Sports Club and three other clubs representing Kandy, Kurunegala and Galle regions. The inclusion of these three clubs according to Nishantha Ranatunga, the secretary of SLC is in a bid to promote cricket in the outstations but smaller clubs criticize this fact by calling it a blind side move to kill the sport in the outstations.
“We have to think the fact, if we are looking into the interest of the clubs or the nation. This was a proposal brought out by the cricket committee of SLC after serious observation and research. Many including the members of the executive committee are in support of this proposal. But I agree that there are loopholes in this plan which needs to have a serious study before its implementation. As complained by many this has nothing to do with an individual club or a faction. If the SLC has to take policy decisions it has to suit the best interest of the country and that’s what we are looking at presently,” Ranatunga stated.comments powered by Disqus