Sri Lanka Cricket is hopeful the Lanka Premier League will go ahead as scheduled in August, despite the Sri Lankan government pushing back the August 1 reopening of the country’s main airport in Katunayake.
Sri Lanka’s sports ministry last week gave a go-ahead for the tournament, which has been scheduled from August 8 to 22. The date had been scheduled taking into account that Sri Lanka would be opening its borders for foreign arrivals on August 1.
“We’re hoping to speak to His Excellency [president Gotabaya Rajapaksa] and see if we can come to a decision,” SLC CEO Ashley de Silva told ESPNcricinfo. “Sri Lanka has done very well in containing the coronavirus as opposed to other countries in the region, and as such we have had a lot of interest from foreign players in taking part in the tournament.”
The LPL will see five teams taking part, with SLC still accepting tenders regarding franchise ownerships. Players will be selected through an auction process similar to the one popularised by the Indian Premier League, with each team allowed a maximum of six foreign players in a squad and four in the playing XI.
The tournament will be played in either double or single round-robin format, followed by semi-finals and final.
The length of the tournament meanwhile hinges not only on Sri Lanka opening its borders but also on whether SLC is able to come to an agreement with the BCCI over a tour of Sri Lanka, also in August. If the BCCI agrees, the tour would likely take place following the LPL, which in turn would shorten the tournament, explained de Silva.
“At the moment we’re looking at 23 games, but if India agrees to play then it will most probably come down to 13.”
An inbound India tour would be a significant boon to SLCs finances, which has been hit by the postponement of tours by England earlier this year, and most recently by Bangladesh, who were set to tour Sri Lanka in July but pulled out citing a lack of match preparedness owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In terms of health and safety measures, any tour or tournament will see a significant reduction in crowds, with SLC planning to allow only up to 20% of stadium capacity, though the finer details are still to be ironed out.