21 Jun

Sri Lanka Cricket is looking at starting up a T20 league in August, even as uncertainty continues to cloud inbound tours from India and Bangladesh.

Various SLC boards have tried repeatedly to get a major T20 tournament off the ground and failed. But with Sri Lanka managing the pandemic issues better than many other nations so far, SLC believes it has an opportunity this year to safely host a tournament with significant foreign involvement, while other leagues are struggling to draw overseas talent.

SLC CEO Ashley de Silva is understood to have written to other boards about the prospect of a Lankan Premier League (LPL), while foreign players have also been approached.

SLC current thinking is that LPL will feature five teams and last just over three weeks. The window would be mid-August to early September, but its feasibility will not only depend on corporate and sponsor interest - SLC has already called for expressions of interest - but also on the viability of the other series scheduled.

It is also trying to get India to tour Sri Lanka for three ODIs and T20Is each and Bangladesh for three Tests, while also hoping to host the Asia Cup in September.

The one strength that the board is banking on is that from August, foreign players, support staff and broadcast personnel will not be required to undergo a long quarantine upon arrival in Sri Lanka. Instead, they will just be required to return two negative Covid-19 results - one shortly before boarding their flights in their respective countries for which a certificate must be produced and another soon after arriving in Sri Lanka. And while new arrivals will be quarantined during the testing and result process, it is not expected to take more than 24 hours.

An SLC official confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that government approval had been granted not just for a potential LPL, but also for the India, Bangladesh and Asia Cup tours. The official described the tentative plan for the LPL as "ambitious", but said the board was moving ahead with the hopes of putting a tournament together in the space of about two months.

SLC has never had success hosting a premier league-style tournament. In six attempts it only once managed to run the tournament - the 2012 Sri Lanka Premier League, which was sparsely attended and later attracted allegations of corruption.

With the IPL and The Hundred in limbo due to Covid-19, leading overseas players are likelier to make themselves more available for an LPL, but SLC is still some distance from getting a tournament together.

John Stephenson



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