Lanka Premier League faces further delays
Cricket's Lanka Premier League, the domestic T20 tournament set to launch in Sri Lanka later this month, faces having its start date postponed once again, and the prospect of having to relocate entirely to the United Arab Emirates or Malaysia.
The country’s health authorities have still not granted permission for the tournament, due to start on 21 November, to go ahead, with the window for overseas players to come in and complete the current mandatory two-week quarantine period quickly closing.
Officials at Sri Lanka Cricket are set to meet the country’s health minister later this week to discuss plans for the five-team tournament, which has had its debut severely affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Among the requests will be for the quarantine period for overseas players to be reduced to five or seven days.
The LPL, Sri Lanka’s first noteworthy domestic T20 tournament, has already had its start delayed several times this year, after being originally mooted to begin in late August.
Speaking to ESPNCricinfo this week, LPL director Ravin Wickramaratne said: “The first option is to play the tournament across two venues in Sri Lanka… but we might have to move it back by about one week. The second option is to play it all in one venue, which will make the arrangements around a bio-secure bubble for players and staff more straightforward.”
He added: “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.”
Separately, Mohan de Silva, secretary of the SLC, said: “We are a little worried about this LPL, as the health authorities have still not granted us the permission.”
As things stand, the LPL will take place in Hambantota and Pallekele between 21 November and 13 December.
In August, Innovative Production Group, the Dubai-based sports broadcasting company, struck a five-year deal with SLC to organise and manage the tournament’s commercial rights.
Under the deal, IPG will hold the rights to franchises, broadcasting, ground sponsorship and AV production. The SLC will only handle venues and umpires.
Elsewhere, CEAT, one of India’s leading tyre manufacturers, has signed up to become a commercial partner of this month’s Women’s T20 Challenge, the domestic short-format tournament.
CEAT will be the tournament’s official strategic time out partner, a role it has played since 2015 for the Indian Premier League, the prestigious men’s equivalent tournament.
The Women’s T20 Challenge will be held entirely in the United Arab Emirates between 4 and 9 November, taking place at the same time as the final stages of the IPL.
Brijesh Patel, chairman of the IPL, said: “CEAT Tyres have been long-term partners of the IPL and have also supported women cricketers via bat sponsorships. To now sign them… for the Women’s T20 Challenge further strengthens the growth trajectory of the women’s game.”
Yesterday, Jio, the Indian telecoms company owned by conglomerate Reliance, signed a deal with the Board of Control for Cricket India, to become the tournament’s title sponsor. It marked the first time the BCCI signed up a sponsor specifically for the women’s event.