Cricket chiefs justify disowning eastern Sri Lanka from LPL | Sunday Observer

Cricket chiefs justify disowning eastern Sri Lanka from LPL

29 November, 2020

Organisers of the highly anticipated Lanka Premier League (LPL) have defended their decision to ignore one of the most backward regions of the country, the East, when they branded the five teams for the championship which got underway in the deep south of Hambantota on Thursday.

The eastern part of Sri Lanka will not be in anyone’s imagination with the emphasis on all other parts like the North promoted by the Jaffna Stallions, the South fostered by the Galle Gladiators, the West sustained by the Colombo Kings, the Central hills majestically boosted by the Kandy Tuskers and the out-of-sorts Dambulla, also in the central region from where is named a team called the Vikings.

But LPL organisers contend the east of the country was never in line to receive any honours at the inaugural extravaganza as they took into account international cricket venues in the regions and not followers of the sport when they branded the teams.

“We initially decided to name the teams after the international venues we have in the country, like Colombo, Galle, Kandy and Dambulla and we felt Jaffna should be taken in. But this is not the final ruling. The number of teams could increase next year and we have not left out the east”, said tournament director Ravin Wickremaratne.

He could not hide the fact that the North (Jaffna) does not have an international venue.

Although not viewed as an important destination for cricket, the east of the country gave Sri Lanka Cricket what would have been its biggest ever public reception during a humanitarian visit called Cricket Aid in the aftermath of the 2004 Asian tsunami.

On the day thousands of schoolboys and their parents packed the streets on either side of the road and jostled to catch a glimpse of some of the Sri Lanka players who acted as goodwill ambassadors that included the charismatic Muttiah Muralideran whose Tamil language is widely spoken in the east.

Eastern Sri Lanka is the most multicultural region with a most ethnically diverse population that lives in the most neglected part of the country despite its vast untapped resources with no unifying force.

Its residents have been silent followers of cricket since Sri Lanka was elevated to international Test status in1981.

The LPL showcases Sri Lanka’s first event for international consumption since sport was dealt a crippling blow by the global coronavirus pandemic in March that compelled foreign cricket teams to cancel or postpone their tours of the island.