As a result of much needed awaking after the lacklustre world cup campaign of the national team, the Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC) has finally decided to revamp domestic structure by reducing the Tier A teams to 10 from 14, Cricket Age exclusively learns.
Sri Lanka won three, lost four matches at the World Cup, with two abandoned due to rain and were knocked out from the first round.
It turned out Sri Lanka’s worst performance in the World Cups in the last 20 years and most, including Captain Dimuth Karunaratne, blamed poor domestic structure for below per performance.
“In Sri Lanka we have one domestic season. The players have only one chance to showcase their talent and we have to identify players only from that. That’s the reason,” Karunaratne said after their final World Cup match against India at Leeds.
Karunaratne was put in charge of the team for the mega event straightway.
“Due to substandard domestic structure, when young players come to the international level, there’s a huge gap. We have to close that gap,” he added.
“Those are the things I’m expecting from the cricket board after this World Cup. I hope they will take a good decision and put up a strong domestic structure to help produce some good players for the future” he added further.
And, it seems that president Shammi Silva led SLC administration has also realized the same!
Accordingly, Sri Lanka’s Tier A first class tournament, that comprises 14 team currently, will be reduced to 10 teams.
“Board President Shammi Silva has put this as his first priority in order to revamp domestic structure” a senior SLC administrator told Cricket Age.
According to Shammi’s proposed restructuring, the 10 teams will play 9 four-day league matches in this scenario.
“As the president has planned to reduce Tier A teams to 10, in the Tier B there will be 14 teams. Currently, 10 teams are competing each other in the Tier B” the senior SLC administrator added further.
“Earlier only a few top quality clubs were in tier A and given first-class status. It meant that the number of first-class matches were high through the season and the level of competition was maintained. Now, tier B clubs have been given first-class status too. Earlier they only played three-day matches, which were not considered first-class matches. So, now, the whole structure is divided in groups or zones, and it has results in fewer number of matches for players and the quality of first-class has gone down considerably,” he further explained.
His words resonate with what the likes of Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, bowling coach Chaminda Vaas and former team manager Asanka Gurusinha had highlighted at different points during last two years.
The move was long due. However, due to certain reasons, previous SLC administration’s found it rather difficult to revamp domestic structure. Shammi, unlike his predecessors, seems determined to make necessary steps to bring Sri Lanka Cricket back on track!
However, there are still few hurdles. As per the SLC tournament structure, that was amended in 2017 with the consent of stakeholders, the Tier A domestic tournament must consist 14 teams for next five years.
In this scenario, Shammi Silva led administration will have to call for an EGM and get the consent of SLC stakeholders again for the proposed changes. For that also, the board will have to amend the constitution first.
“The president is hopeful that he will get the support of stakeholders, as it will strengthen Sri Lanka domestic structure significantly” the SLC senior administrator concluded.