The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

SLC restructures the club cricket tournament

Tier ‘B’ tournament scrapped

As expected the Sri Lanka Cricket Executive Committee has decided to restructure its Premier League tournament.
With the standard of domestic cricket going down to cater to the needs of international cricket, there was a lot of criticism about the structure of local tournaments.

A Premier Division One game in progress

Up to now there were twenty teams involved in the first class tournament, segmented into tiers ‘A’ and ‘B’. One major criticism was that the tournament, having 20 teams, was bottom heavy and the bench strengths of the clubs were at their lowest, especially those clubs who supply the national grid.� Championed by the National Selection Committee Chairman Asantha de Mel, the SLC Executive Committee has now decided to launch a new programme by canceling the segment ‘B’.

The usual Tier ‘A’ comprises Colts (the current champions), Sinhalese Sports Club, Ragama Cricket Club, Chilaw Marians, Bloomfield C and AC, Tamil Union C and AC, Lankan CC, Badureliya Sports Club, Moors and NCC.Ironically NCC, which is a major provider to the national grid, ended up last in last year’s competition with the national team having a busy international schedule and the club having a weak bench strength owing to the prevailing system. Though ending up last, NCC will not face relegation on the strength of the restructure.

However the recommended changes of the SLC’s executive committee have given the green light to four other clubs also to field teams in Tier ‘A’ in a bid to decentralize the game. The first team, Army, comes in with the distinction of becoming the segment ‘B’ champions last year. The other three teams are from Kurunegala YCC, Galle CC and Kandy SC.

Out of the three teams only Kurunegala YCC was even involved with segment ‘B’ while Kandy SC and Galle CC were involved in the Sara trophy tournament.The three upgraded outstation teams will be given a run in the top tournament for three years even though the threat of relegation will be imposed once again at the end of this year’s tournament. The prospect of relegation will apply to all teams other than those mentioned.

Asantha de Mel explaining the concept of promoting the three outstation clubs to the Sunday Times said, “We have chosen three provinces that could be nurtured. Galle CC could include the talent that comes from say Ambalangoda to Matara, Kandy CC could cater to the in-take from the huge number of schools that play cricket in the Central Province and they have the Pallekele Ground and the Asgiriya grounds to facilitate that.

Then in Kurunegala the Welagedera Stadium could be the central point for cricketers in the North Western Province.” When asked if this would mean the end of the Provincial Tournament concept the Chairman of the National Cricket Selection Committee said, “There will be a tournament that would go with the club tournament. Maybe it will be called the Provincial Tournament or the Zonal Tournament, but that will be the final main tournament, which will comprise about five teams. Performances from this particular tournament will be considered when it comes to national selection.”

Though it was passed, there were some protests about the system recorded at the executive committee meeting.

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