The first edition of the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) will be a seven-team inter-provincial tournament played over approximately 18 days at the end of July and the beginning of August this year. The teams will play each other once, with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals. All the games will be played the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo and the winner of the tournament will qualify for the Champions League Twenty20.
ESPNcricinfo has learnt that the seven provinces that will be represented are Basnahira, Kandurata, Nagenahira, Ruhuna, Uthura, Uva and Wayamba. Sri Lanka Cricket will select the players for each team, with domestic players likely to be allotted to their home provinces, thereby ensuring the teams have local support.
Each team will have a mix of Sri Lanka and international players with total squad sizes between 16 and 18 players. The playing XI must consist of a minimum of seven Sri Lanka players and a maximum of four international players, with one Sri Lanka player being a current Under-21 cricketer. Each team will also have its share of icon or marquee players, as well as a prominent ex-Sri Lanka player as a mentor or coach.
International players will also be assigned to the various teams by the SLC national selection committee depending on the needs of each team. In this respect, SLC’s approach differs from the IPL, in which teams were sold to franchises who then bid for players in an auction. Among the international players who will be taking part are Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi, Daniel Vettori, Daniel Christian, Herschelle Gibbs and Kevin O’Brien.
The SLPL has also approached a number of Indian players apart from those likely to be playing the Test series against England, and is waiting for the BCCI to approve their participation. The BCCI has already stated it has no problems with the proposed league and that Indian players are free to take part as long as there is no conflict with India’s international or domestic schedule.
The league will be run by the Singapore-based Somerset Entertainment, which has bought the rights for five years. The television rights for the tournament have already been sold in Sri Lanka and the goal is to broadcast the tournament across all mediums in every cricketing nation. The matches will be played at 4 pm and 8 pm on most days, although some days will see only an 8 pm game.
Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo
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