The Sri Lanka Premier League kicked off last week amid many expectations, but only from the Sri Lankan Cricket (SLC) board. The rest of the world and even cricket fans from Sri Lanka itself did not seem to have warmed up for the event. As a result, the tournament is being played in front of literally empty stands, the most demotivating factor for a cricket player, and also the biggest proof of the lack of interest in a sporting event. We tried to analyse some of the reasons behind why the Sri Lanka Premier League is turning out to be a flop show.
Absence of star power: Any domestic T20 event needs big stars. It is one of the reasons why crowds flock to watch the IPL. In the case of SLPL, Chris Gayle, Shakib Al Hasan and even home hero Kumar Sangakkara pulled out of the series even before it began. Minus them, the tournament has lost most of its sheen. And even the presence of star local players like Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga hasn’t been enough to bring in spectators.
Overdose of cricket: Remember, the SLPL began only days after India’s umpteenth visit to the island nation. As such, fans had already got their regular dose of cricket, and didn’t seem to want more. They are also aware that the World T20 will be played in Sri Lanka next month, and that may be one of the prime reasons why the crowds aren’t too enthusiastic towards the SLPL. Moreover, there have been a number of domestic T20 events around the world. Apart from IPL, we have the Bangladesh Premier League, the Big Bash T20 League and so on. Too much of anything, no matter how popular it is, is bad, and the same applies to cricket.
No Indian support: For the SLPL to do well, the presence of Indian players was a must. Without sounding jingoistic, it is a fact that Indian cricketers are the biggest crowd pullers all around the globe. When the BCCI refused to send Indian players last year, SLC went to the extent of cancelling the league. This year as well, the Indian players weren’t allowed to go, but the Lankan board’s reputation was at stake, and hence they had no option but to go ahead with the league minus India’s big names.
Lack of clarity over franchises: Despite having known names as franchises, the IPL has run into plenty of trouble over wrongdoings. The case with the SLPL is even more dangerous. Due to the lack of interest, not many know who is in charge of which side. Also, the SLC hasn’t made additional efforts to disburse information about the same. It wasn’t shocking then that reports of alleged corrupt activities in the league started doing the rounds even before the event began. Further, the names of some franchises can be pronounced only by Lankan people –Nagenahira and Basnahira CD. Take that!
--By A Cricket Analyst