I will address the "Dubai Stallions" question in a separate follow-up. Let me attempt to explain the point I attempted to make in this quick write-up. I just vomited the original "article" out in a quick 15 minute write-up, and clearly, I should have made a more detailed argument to support my hypothesis.
First, the intent of this article is not to denigrate 'poor' SL cricket in any form. Its merely an attempt to look at Cricket's on-going re-structuring and evolution, and an idea for a improbable, but plausible IPL expansion that could benefit SL Cricket.
Read what Malinga just said yesterday regarding the "lost generation" of Lankan cricketers. His primary point is that top level cricketers need experience to really be able to compete at the highest level. SL don't have a proper core set of experienced cricketers at the moment, because outside of Sanga/lady Jaya/ Dilshan, they simply kept chopping and changing the players too often. Maybe they were forced to, due to the mediocre levels of performers. But that lack of seasoned, experienced players is really a core issue for them at the moment.
Now, going forward, with Franchise cricket forcing cricket boards to sharply cut the fat and reduce the number of "bilateral" series and tours - the opportunities for SL cricket to apprentice the next generation of cricket at the highest level will keep reducing. Teams simply cannot afford to assume that they will find rookies from domestic first-class cricket who will step into international cricket and start performing at required levels of skill and consistency. Those that have a well-established and competitive domestic cricket scene, with reasonable levels of talent, are bound to produce better prospects in quantity and quality over time - apart from the odd talented freak of nature that can appear in any country. Today, the SL board is able to get the Indian team to play a dozen ODIs, home and away, in exchange for voting support at the ICC level. Looking a few years down the road, more and more space-time on the international cricket calendar is going to be blocked off by IPL, BBL, CPL etc. Tomorrow, SL Cricket is going to get even fewer opportunities to try out their players and give them experience against top teams at the highest level, between global tournaments like the World Cup.
While not all T20 leagues are equivalent in quality, apart from the profits, the biggest benefit they provide for the hosting countries is to give a platform for a big chunk of their domestic players to train, practice, perform and compete at a high level against the best possible quality of opposition outside of international cricket. This is not a novel insight - Top-level Franchise cricket is increasingly becoming a big part in helping young cricketers develop their skills and get ready for the next level. The BBL has given the Australian team Chris Lynn. The IPL, for example, has already helped the Indian team 'find' players like Ashwin, Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, and many more are coming. There is a reason why Pakistan, England and South Africa are all trying to get their own leagues started.
Countries that don't have the population base, or the money to run their own version of a T20 league - one that can afford to bring in top players from the international circuit, will not be able to give 30 of their best prospects, this kind of exposure. Sri Lanka is one of them. But because of the historical alliance with the BCCI, and the geographical proximity, it is very possible for a Colombo Franchise to participate in the IPL. And its not about insulting SL - its about the benefits they would gain from doing so. Assuming the 7 native player rule is applied, right off the bat, that means that the Colombo squad will scout, select and train at least a dozen Sri Lankan cricketers along with importing 5-7 international 'stars'. Think about what that means for Sri Lankan Cricket. How many Sri Lankans play on the international T20 circuit today? Maybe 3 or 4 - and most of them are established stars - retired or soon to retire. Outside of Sangakarra, Malinga, Mathews, Thisara Perera, who is getting opportunities? A Lankan IPL Franchise would mean that the SL equivalents of Shreyas Iyer, Krunal Pandya, Vijay Shankar would get access to IPL level coaching, fitness training, and game participation. They will get to rub shoulders with the top T20 players in the world - Pollard, Raina, Aaron Finch, etc on a regular basis. And all at a minimal up-front cost to the Sri Lankan Board. Eventually, they will find the next generation of Sangakarras and Dilshan from this.
Consider the alternative - SL first class cricket is considerably bloated with over 15 club teams IIRC, who don't play nearly the same amount of domestic games as their counterparts in India, Australia or England do. And a weak domestic cricket scene always guarantees that the international team will be weak as well, barring the odd Sangakarra or Murali who shows up randomly once in every few generations. Just look at Zimbabwe - those guys hardly get to play international cricket, and their domestic cricket has atrophied to maybe a handful of games a year. That is why Zimbabwe has fallen to associate level performances from where it was in the 1990s - a competitive team with the Flower brothers, Heath Streak etc - lack of a system that gives the young players adequate opportunities to develop short of the international level.
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