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Sri Lanka looks to SLPL as preparation for World T20

Sri Lanka Cricket is concentrating on hosting the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) as a forerunner to the ICC World T20 in Australia in October-November as they are unlikely to get any international cricket before the world event.

The SLPL is scheduled to take place in August-September and the national team players resuming training and practices following the Covid-19 outbreak, is looked at by SLC as a positive sign that the situation in the country is gradually getting back to near normal.

India is scheduled to make a tour of Sri Lanka in June-July for a series of 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is followed by Bangladesh for a two-Test series in July-August.

“These two tours are very uncertain right now. The Indian series is out and Bangladesh is also dilly-dallying because of the situation, unless it improves within the next month or so they will not consider coming this year,” Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Mohan de Silva told the Daily News.

Sri Lanka has postponed two series already because of Covid-19 – the two-Test series against England in March and the 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is against South Africa in June.

“If the Bangladesh series doesn’t take place we will have to prepare for the World T20 in Australia in October-November because that is our next international series. Cricket Australia is keen to have the World T20 because they won’t forego any income. They have already started footie without spectators and in time to come the other sports will also start to follow. The possibility of the World T20 being held is there because Australia has put out their international schedule,” said De Silva.

“That is why we are trying to grab the opportunity to get some international players for the SLPL in preparation for the World T20 if we can’t have any international tours. In this context the SLPL becomes very important for Sri Lanka if the ICC decides to go ahead and hold the World T20 as scheduled in October-November,” he said.

“Without much international tours even if the teams don’t come, individually we can get a few players who are interested for the SLPL and give our players some competition for the World T20,” he added. Explaining further the steps taken by SLC to host the SLPL, De Silva said, “We are making preparations and doing the ground work. We have called for EOI’s (Expression of Interest) and they are making their bids. Within the next two weeks we are finalising and enlisting the players. We are looking at 5-6 teams.”

“We are working on the basis that the World T20 will take place and the SLPL will give our players the much needed practice to prepare for it in the absence of any international tours taking place. In the mean time if the situation improves Bangladesh may decide to come. We have invited them and they have told us to give them a few more weeks to see whether the situation improves,” De Silva said.

Sri Lanka Cricket is also taking a decision on Monday when its Executive Committee meets for domestic cricket to recommence from July.

“We have decided to get the clubs to start training. We are taking a decision on Monday at the ExCo meeting when the tournament committee recommendations will be taken up and thereafter we will notify the clubs to recommence training and practice and prepare for the resumption of domestic cricket,” said De Silva.

In the meantime the 13 national cricketers undergoing training at the CCC grounds have been housed at Shangri-La Hotel. They will train and practice for two weeks under the watchful eyes of head coach Mickey Arthur and his support staff after which another set of players will be named to undergo a similar schedule.

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