Lanka Premier League green-lit; venue yet to be finalised

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s health ministry and COVID-19 task force have green-lit the proposed Lanka Premier League (LPL) cricket tournament, but a final decision has yet to be made regarding the venue, a Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) official said.

Speaking to EconomyNext on the condition of anonymity, the official said no decision has been reached yet regarding the choice of Hambantota as the only venue for the tournament.

A discussion was held yesterday at the Health Ministry between health officials and the SLC on venue selection for the tournament in which Hambantota was discussed as the only ‘possible option’. The discussion had also focused on holding the tournament while adhering to health regulations.

Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa tweeted this afternoon that the tournament has been approved, though he did not mention the venue.

https://twitter.com/RajapaksaNamal/status/1324246100979666944

The SLC official defended the proposal to hold the LPL at a time when COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka have passed 12,000, with cases being found in every district.

“There is a need to have the LPL as it’s good for the country. SLC does not have any issues with regulations of the Health Ministry as they are imposed because they are needed for the country,” the official said.

Meanwhile, speaking to ESPNcricinfo, tournament director Ravin Wickramaratne said that the SLC would much prefer to play the tournament on the island. However, the 14-day quarantine that Sri Lanka’s health ministry is insisting on increasingly appears a dealbreaker for some foreign players, as well as an operational obstacle for broadcast crews and commentators set to come for the tournament.

Having repeatedly cancelled previous iterations of the tournament, SLC is desperate to make it happen this year, and is now considering three options, Wickramaratne said.

“The first option is to play the tournament across two venues in Sri Lanka – in Hambantota and Pallekele – but we might have to move the tournament back by about one week. The second option is to play it all in one venue, which will make the arrangements around a biosecure bubble for players and staff more straightforward.

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“The last option, which we would rather not take, is to play in the UAE or Malaysia. This is a Sri Lankan tournament so it should be played here. But this has been a much-awaited tournament, and there are many Sri Lankan players who have been waiting to play in it. So we want to play it,” he told ESPNcricinfo.

With the emergence of new COVID-19 cases in the country, the LPL dates were revised to run from November 21 to December 13, with matches to be played in Hambantota and Pallekele. (Colombo/Nov05/2020)

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