Sri Lanka Cricket has finally got to the front of the buffet line to experience a bit of the 2020 league pie. The on again, off again, we think are on again, SLPL looks like it is actually on now. From the outset its looked like a bit of a rush job. There is still a lot of hoping and wishing going on to get the Indians to come. And as with anything SLC related, a lot of it’s details are very merky.
We’ve tried not to dwell on the TV rights thing. also known as a conflict of interest, going to Nishantha Ranatunga’s company. We’ve overlooked that in February this year COPE investigated the deal that SLC and SEV struck together to manage the Provincial tournaments. Then in 3 months, the SLC management appears to have done a remarkable ‘nothing to see here, carry on’ trick with COPE. And of course the question remains as to who the fuck SEV are to begin with.
Google them. The company’s ‘Press’ section of their website is all about the SLPL or importantly ONLY about the SLPL. It’s funny reading it because it has news from when the SLPL failed to launch. Which I would have thought wasn’t something that put the company in good light. But the answer becomes clear when you click into the Who we are section. They don’t have an IT guy. But they all appear to Indians or expat Indians, so I am sure they will figure it out soon enough. If first impressions are anything to go by it doesn’t really say much. We can gather the company has been around for a couple of years but does not appear to have had any big jobs in the Sport Promotion industry that they are in. SEV’ve been clever enough to get SLC to sign a 15 year deal with them. This is the first big, although how big remains to be seen, win for SEV and they look like they want to milk it as much as they can.
What that hopefully means though is that SEV need the SLPL to work. And will go balls out to make it a success. It’s hard to tell how good they are because we have nothing to compare it with. We don’t even really know what their rolein the deal is either. And we imagine working with people from the SLC is as fun as herpes, so it remains to be seen how well it all plays out in the end.
How Important is the SLPL to Sri Lanka
If handled well, it could be first jewel in a crappy looking crown for the SLC. The primary goal for the SLPL is to make money for the board. Which is not really a bad thing. SLC needs to break a lot of piggy banks to get back into the black again. So any revenue that flows in is good. All the talk about giving young SL players a chance to mingle with the elite in the world is just PR. Let the SLC play that game but it is quite clear to us what this is about. Naturally this will a good build up to the 2020 WC and in general it will give Sri Lankan fans a chance to be a part of an exicting tournament.
The current Sri Lankan cricketers themselves can’t really be that excited about this. We don’t blame them. After playing in the IPL and experiencing the glitz of it this will be a hard come down. With much lower pay. The fringe players will finally get a chance to show off their wears but whether an SLC keeping both eyes on the balance sheet will notice is another matter.
We hope Sri Lanka Cricket’s long term goal for the SLPL is to use the monetary benifits it will provide to finally stand on its own two feet. The dependency on India is felt most by SL. The BCCI have the power to squash the SLPL with one wave of their magic wand if they wanted to. The SLC needs to break this cycle and be an independant entity that does not have to rely on hand outs from their neighbours. At the moment Sri Lanka are nothing but glorified beggars. For there to be any chance of cricket surviving as a Sri Lankan brand it needs to live and breath by it self. Not be on life support which the BCCI can turn off on a whim. The SLPL money could help do that. So yes, it is important. But does the SLC have the nuance to turn opportunity into something tangible?
What does it need to succeed.
Indians. And lots and lots of them. It’s ironic that for the SLPL to succeed it requires Indians to play in it. And that is precisely why SLC might never be an independant board as highlighted above. The SLPL can never be an IPL. The resources and the monetary backing simply will not be the same. While it is romantic to think that it will help develop the local talent, the overriding requirement of the SLPL is to be a financial success. And for that to happen there needs to be heavy investment and there needs to be international stars to create interest world wide. Specifically India. Why would a player play in the SLPL when the IPL will earn them x amounts more ?
If the SLPL is going to be held around the same time, it will come a few months after the IPL. Fans get weary of the IPL at the end of its trillion games, so the interest level for a similar, possibly sub par, league might be hard to generate. There is also the backlash from fans regarding Sri Lankans playing in the IPL and it stopping international tours in that time frame. Certainly Sri Lankas top player will be expected to take part in the SLPL, so another month with no intertional cricket? Lack of international and local fans will hurt bottom lines
What is likely to happen
The SLPL does not have a website. Ticket selling is not something that the SLC does well. So far Gibbs is the only intertional player that has been confirmed as a signing. The BCCI are toying with the SLC about sending their players and so many things remain up in the air. If the first edition is not a success then it will be very hard to win fan loyalty. There are many leagues popping up that are the SLPLs immediate competition. The IPL being the biggest and closest to home.
Can the SLC overcome all this to make it into a success story. We are quite pessimistic. Almost English pessimistic about this. Looking past the artificially generated excitement, we predict a bit of a snooze fest. It will probably be hit with some controversy. Players might not get paid. Tickets might get sold and re sold. And SLCs red might start looking redder. It is very likely that this will be a massive cock up.
But the SLC need this to work. So against all that is good and what we know to be true, we are hoping that they somehow get their act together, for once, to get this done. And done right. Sri Lanka’s future could be riding on it.