School cricket revamped
In a huge and earnest effort to resuscitate the ailing junior cricket system in the island, Sri Lanka Cricket and the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association are striving to streamline the process in a joint effort.On June 15, 2012 a set of SLC officials, which included President Upali Dharmadasa, Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga, Director Cricket Operations Ashley de Silva, Manager Junior Cricket Development Carlton Bernadus, Acting CEO Ajith Jayasekera and the Chairman of the National Cricket Selection Committee Asantha de Mel met a Group of SLSCA officials which included President L.M.D. Dharmasena, Vice President Sarathchandra Silva, Secretary Dilshan de Silva and others to discuss the modalities of how to revamp the existing Junior Cricket system in the island.
The need for a change to the system was in the air for some time now and the recent performance of the Sri Lanka team at the Under 19 World Cup has compounded the issue. However it must be said that some of the officials foresaw the impending disasters and were working on the subject for the past year or more.The changes to the structure will begin from the Under 13 level and go up to the Under 19 level. Through the new format the SLSCA and the SLC will have a stake in the sustenance and maintenance of the game’s standards.
According to SLC sources, the buck will begin at the Under 13 level during the months of November and December, when the bigger boys take a break for their O’ Level examinations. Firstly, the existing Under 13 cricket tournament will be scrapped and a one-day tournament will be introduced with each school playing a maximum of 10 matches per season.
According to the sources this will enable the younger brood to indulge in the game more freely and build up their skills in the accepted norms. There is even a stipulation to the effect that the seamers should be operating from either end in the initial eight overs.
In another major change, the Under 13 tournament will be played provincially. No school will be allowed to play matches outside their provinces at this level.
The Under 15 and Under 17 matches will be Limited Over matches sans the power plays. The tournament will be conducted between May 20 and August 20. At the completion of the inter-school tournament, the SLC will take charge of the lads and conduct the District and Provincial Tournaments.
SLC officials will select the Under 15 and Under 17 schoolboys who will be slotted into the district and provincial tournaments. The District Under 15 tournament will be a One-Day affair while the Provincial Tournament will be played for two days.
The Under 17 District tournament will be played for two days while the Provincial Tournament will be played for the duration of three days.
The Under 19 tournament will begin during the normal September-October season and will end between April 1 and 10.
From the coming season, a school is permitted to play only 16 matches that will include their traditional, tournament and big matches.
There will be six matches played during the third term. No cricket will be allowed during the break for the GCE O’ Level examinations which runs from the latter part of November through the whole of December.
No third term matches may be postponed to the first term. Also it is stipulated that there should be a seventy-two hour break between matches so that there will be time for respective coaches to work on the players and also the proper maintenance of wickets.There is a change in the schools’ limited overs tournament too. The first division’s thirty-six teams will play amongst each other while the second division’s 32 teams will play each other.
The 150 division III schools will be broken into groups of 24 teams and the tournament will be conducted amongst them.
After the April break, the SLC will draw the cricketers to take part in their District and Provincial Tournaments. The District tournament will be played for two days while the Provincial Tournament will last for three days.
All SLC tournaments will be conducted by the respective district and provincial associations under auspices of the District Development Committee of the SLC. Meanwhile the SLSCA secretary Dilshan de Silva confirmed that there were going to be changes in the Junior cricket format. At the same time they had pointed out that if the authorities were interested in elevating the standard the matches should be played with a standardized ball and the SLC should help the schools in this aspect.
De Silva also said that out of the 36 schools in the division one only twenty teams had their own turf wickets and the SLSCA had requested SLC to release grounds at Maggona, Welagedera, Hambantota, Pallekele and Khettarama at a nominal fee to the respective who need to use them. The SLC had promised to look at the request favourably and also said that they would look into the possibility of constructing turf side wickets at these schools.
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