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    SLC announces 'Elite Championship' to foster provincial talent

    November 16, 2015

    Sri Lanka Cricket has announced a new city based structure, titled the 'Elite Championship' aiming to decentralize Sri Lanka's Cricket from Colombo, and distill talent to ensure a sterner level of domestic competition.

    The 2015-16 season will also feature a four-day, 50-over and Twenty20 tournament based out of five regional hubs, in addition to the club-based premier tournaments which will continue as usual.


    According to SLC officials, the plan for the Elite Championship was "spearheaded" by Mahela Jayawardene. The interim committee, which took over in early April, has made the overhaul of the domestic system a priority of their administration, which is set to end in January - before any of the new tournaments are played. It is hoped the new structure will help better identify and foster provincial talent.


    "Today, the bulk of our cricketers are coming from the outstations," SLC chairman Sidath Wettimuny said. "We've got to encourage these cricketers to remain in their home territory and play. Everybody doesn't need to come to Colombo. We're taking cricket out to them and providing them with what they need."


    The five Elite Championship teams will be based out of stadiums in Pallekele, Dambulla, Hambantota, Galle and Khettarama, and will take the names of the nearest major urban centre (Kandy, Kurunegala, Hambantota, Galle and Colombo respectively).


    "Historically and geographically, these are the cities that have brought cricket to the level it is now," SLC cricket operations manager Carlton Bernardus said. "The advantage also is that the facilities in these regions cater to the game."


    By fielding only five teams, SLC aims to concentrate the talent in its domestic pool, in order to better prepare domestic cricketers for the international level. The Premier League first-class tournament, which features 14 club sides, has been criticised by players and administrators for being bloated, and as such, producing relatively-low quality cricket.


    Each Elite Championship team will be assigned SLC coaches and support staff. Romesh Kaluwitharana, Nuwan Zoysa, Piyal Wijetunge, Roy Dias and Avishka Gunawardene have been identified as head coaches for the five teams. The Elite Championship support staff will be advised and overseen by the national coaches in Colombo.


    The Elite Championship T20 tournament is set to be the first of the city-based tournaments to be played: it is scheduled from January 26 to February 5 - ahead of the World T20. The Elite Championship four-day tournament is scheduled for March and April 2016. The teams are scheduled to play a round-robin, before two sides progress to the final.

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