Colombo, July 16 (ANI): Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) intends to restructure its first-class tournament, which will see the two-tiered tournament cut down to one, and the number of teams reduced from 20 to 14.
A preference, according to SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga, will be given to clubs with "infrastructure to develop players." Clubs that do not own grounds and are unable to match the facilities of their more established counterparts, will be shut out.
But critics argue that the changes come after Nondescripts Cricket Club (NCC) were relegated to Tier-B for the first time in the club's 125-year history, after finishing in last place in the 2011-12 first-class Tier-A tournament.
Ranjan Paranavithana, coach of the Baduraliya Cricket Club, feels that Colombo's "elite clubs" and the SLC's support for them over the years, has hindered the development of smaller clubs. Therefore, the move to limit the tournament to clubs with grounds and better facilities, he says, is unfair.
"Players from outside of Colombo go to elite clubs from smaller clubs because they have better facilities, to catch the eye of the selectors and to get jobs in Colombo," Paranavithana told Island Cricket.
"Previous cricket administrators at SLC never supported the smaller clubs by way of funds to develop facilities. But they gave millions to clubs like Sinhalese Sports Club, Colts Cricket Club, Burgher Recreation Club and NCC. Those clubs now have indoor facilities, swimming pools and other infrastructure."
"Now, they talk about developing outstation clubs by inviting three teams to play from Galle, Kurunegala and Kandy," Paranavithana added.
A majority of clubs are opposed to the changes, according to Paranavithana. "Clubs are the stakeholders of SLC. Now, there is an elected body which is answerable to their members. The sports minister and the SLC executive committee must realise that the functioning body is not an interim one. If they do this, the clubs will go to courts against it," he said. (ANI)