(18th Julay 2012, Cricturf) : Skipper Mahela Jayawardana gave a smooth and a sensible speech at the SLPL launch. He highlighted the bad and good both about the tournament and how Sri Lanka could capitalize this opportunity to enhance the young players in th e correct way. The complete speech of Mahela is below,
""This tournament is to harness, is to develop and is to capture the imagination of the generation of the country. It is quite easy for someone to argue how can a youngster improve or develop by playing t20 cricket. The opportunity of course is a one format of the game, but it’s going to create a different opportunity for a lot of guys in the dressing room to be part of some of the players who have played over 100 test matches or have taken over 200, 300 test wickets. And share their experience, ask questions, get answers, be a part of that environment that is what development is all about. I remember when I walked in to the dressing room of the Sri Lankan cricket team for the first time, obviously the first day I only spoke two words because I had Aravinda De Silva probably 2 feet away from me, and then Sanath, Roshan and Arjuna Ranatunga around me. So I did not have anyone to speak to apart from Murali obviously who could not stop talking.
But I realized that the way for me to learn the game is about asking questions, see what these legends of the g a me, what they do, in the dressing room how they prepare before they go to bat or after they come back or what is their preparation and be part of that squad. I think the first few months was extraordinary for me coming after playing school cricket at Nalanda, probably playing one season first class cricket at SSC. So the importance of us giving this opportunity for our younger generation is immense. Especially the structure that we have with 3 under U-21 players to be part of the squad and one player has to play in the team. I think it adds lot of value to the tournament. We get to see lot of youngsters improving, getting opportunities to play at this level and they will eventually and hopefully will represent Sri Lanka at the highest level.
While I say all the good things about the tournament, let me in my own little way caution everyone. While been made lot of financial gain, the intent and the commitment of people involved should be to harness the talent, improve facilities in outstations, get every possible Sri Lankan youngster to play the game of cricket and make their dream of playing for Sri Lanka one day. Leaving that thought with you all, I wish everyone who is involved in the tournament all the very best. A special thank to the Sommerset Ventures, I know they work really hard in this endeavour and to all the officials of Sri Lankan cricket that the path that they have taken to take Sri Lanka cricket forward. I believe in my own little personal way that the right path. But we have a lot of hard work to do. Thank you.""
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