The Lankan Premier League (LPL) will be scrapped this year, effectively because no functional board exists at SLC to organise the tournament. Russel Arnold, the tournament director, is understood to have had little support or direction from the few administrators remaining at SLC, over the past few weeks. He announced on Twitter that the LPL was “postponed”. The tournament was due to begin mid-August.
— Russel Arnold (@RusselArnold69) July 6, 2018
This is the third time a showpiece T20 tournament proposed by SLC has been cancelled, out of four attempts. SLC had thrice announced major T20 tournaments between 2011 and 2013, but actually only hosted an event in 2012 – the unpopular and unloved Sri Lankan Premier League. Since then SLC’s T20 tournaments have been purely domestic affairs. Many of these competitions have been hastily put together, and were of modest quality, such as the 23-team event earlier this year.
There have been questions over whether a small market such as Sri Lanka can sustain a showpiece T20 competition like the BPL or PSL, but it is not commercial concerns that forced this particular cancellation. The tournament had been in doubt since May 31, when SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala – the man who proposed the LPL – and his board were dissolved, following the expiration of their elected term. When no fresh elections were held to replace or reinstate the outgoing administrators, the Sri Lanka government stepped in to temporarily run cricket in the country, but there has been little appetite from these temporary administrators to see the LPL through.
Unlike CSA’s T20 Global League, which was postponed last year, the LPL had not sold any franchises. In fact the plan had been for SLC to own the six teams for the first two or three seasons, while the tournament gained some momentum. As no commercial partners had been brought on board, no teams had been announced, no auctions or drafts had been held, and little groundwork was completed, the fallout from this cancellation is unlikely to be significant.
Sri Lanka players will now be free to play in the Caribbean Premier League, as there is now roughly a month’s free window between South Africa’s tour of Sri Lanka, which ends on August 14, and the Asia Cup, which begins on September 13.