Preserving the golden goose

Domestic Cricket in Sri Lanka has been a hugely debated topic. Past administrators as well as past cricketers who had, had a hand in administering the game have had their say and also input in to the matter without really coming up with a solid base. Whilst club cricket has been the strong foundation of local domestic cricket it is a forgone conclusion that the gap between club cricket which is also First class and International cricket is to say the least, enormous.

And as a result a better and more competitive tournament was needed and with it the Inter Provincial Tournament was reinvented. I must at the outset pay a glowing tribute and also credit the former great Aravinda De Silva for the plan and the layout. It was his idea that Provincial cricketers needed to be treated on similar lines as international teams, housing them in star class hotels, making them travel together and also offer them financial rewards, creating the oneness and the proper environment and above all make it the stepping stone to national recognition.

Stemming from that Sidath Wettimuny then an Interim Committee member under the Chairmanship of Jayantha Dharmadasa engineered a more novel approach and a more marketable model, and with it the names Basnahira, Kandurata, Wayamba, Ruhuna etc was born. And thankfully the tournament appears to be permanent and here to stay for some time.

The tournament itself has been a huge hit amongst the players too as it was evident that healthy competition for places was the order of the day and the disappointment if they missed out on a place in a squad. Some of the senior players expressing their views felt that “the Provincial Tournament is most competitive and an excellent learning curve for younger players looking to make the grade!” Besides competing against the best in the business, sharing a dressing room with some of the Sri Lankan cricketing legends is priceless and will always be a huge learning experience.

The current tournament which is in progress too hasn’t been any different in terms of the quality of cricket, with SLC taking pains to ensure the standard is maintained though from a cricketing point of view there has been no outstanding talent emerging from the younger players who were considered as the future of local cricket has continued by fulfilling the promise they had displayed both at school and club levels.
Whilst the cricket itself is of very high standard and much sort after and well marketed with live TV coverage one of the biggest drawbacks has been the lack of sufficient sponsorships to support the tournament.

Though in the first year the tournament had so much of glamour and had attracted a title sponsor as well as sponsors for each province, it was both regretting and disappointing to note just two provinces being sponsored and the title sponsorship being acquired at the eleventh hour! And that too due to the visionary chairman of the Bank of Ceylon Dr. Gamini Wickremasinghe! His decision to portray the bank through a national sports angle was the catalyst for the Inter Provincial Title sponsorship being taken over by the BOC. Of course the sports facilitator of BOC and former National Cricketer and Manager Brendon Kuruppu too was instrumental in the final outcome.

No tournament and especially if it’s your blue ribbon can be played without sponsors, as finances and the attraction and hype sponsors could create and can make a definite difference in the overall context. It will then catch the imagination of the whole country which is an important aspect of it. The clearest example is the IPL. Though one can never expect the Sri Lankan Provincial to be any where close to the IPL, the support base of the franchises and the effort of sponsors have gone a long way in making it a success and also preserving it.

As such the support of the public and their interest too will be an important factor in the success of a tournament though it is not absolutely essential. It is through aggressive marketing and hyping that the public support could be enlisted! And on that score not to have sponsors taking an active role has been very unfortunate and I for one felt that SLC missed a golden opportunity to attract sponsors when they didn’t go with the original sponsor of Wayamba which was Lanka Bell when the Champions league was played last year. As the domestic T 20 Champions it would have been a huge incentive for the sponsor and any potential sponsor to step in, in a big way to support local cricket had they realized the vast potential and the mileage they could have derived at a time sponsorship is slow in coming.

My view is, had the former sponsor being allowed to go along with Wayamba and use its name and logo in the Champions League which had international TV coverage, the benefit the game would have derived is immeasurable and could have easily been used as a marketing strategy to attract more meaningful support from bigger organizations which would have naturally witnessed more finances being invested!
However it’s hoped that the able staff at SLC would take remedial action as the Inter Provincial tournament is an important cog in the cricketing wheel of Sri Lanka.

Roshan Abeysinghe is a leading cricket promoter and an international cricket commentator

Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Other Sports Articles
Joes crying by the Beira Lake!
Can't bat, can't bowl, can jibe: Howard to rule over world cricket
The Vaas burst
Preserving the golden goose
Jeyanthan and Mercy emerge open champions
Otters Tennis from March 11-19
Cooray’s five wicket haul highlight on day one
Lankans dump Kiwis at Greenpath
When agony followed ecstasy!
Bertie Wijesinghe, did everything for nothing
Sri Lanka eyes Asian Games qualifying tourney in Dhaka
Royal muscle vs Thomian grit
Cambrians and Sebs coming with confidence
Trinity are confident but St. Anthony’s can upset
Piyasena to attend Chef De Missions confab in S’pore
Wayamba and Ruhuna qualify to the final
Aussies scrape through in second game
Kingswood-Dharmaraja drawn
Asian in thrilling win over Stafford
Musaeus College Colombo emerge champions
Tame draw at Moratuwa
TT star Sasini Wellalage
Siyaguna takes over the lead in the International contest


Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 2010 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved.| Site best viewed in IE ver 6.0 @ 1024 x 768 resolution