LONDON: The inaugural Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) represents a golden chance to showcase the island nation to the world, said one of the organisers of this month's inaugural Twenty20 tournament.
Sandeep Bhammer, chief executive of the little-known Somerset Entertainment Ventures group that has been given the rights to run the event for 15 years, told Reuters the SLPL would be beamed around the globe.
“Sri Lanka has come out of a 30-year civil war and the idea is to showcase the country to the world,” Bhammer said in a telephone interview.
“It is the only country among the 10 test-playing nations that doesn't have its own version of Twenty20 and it is going to be televised in all the cricketing nations.
“We are a complimentary product to the likes of the Big Bash in Australia and the IPL (Indian Premier League), not a competing product,” Bhammer added.
Seven provincial teams from Sri Lanka will take part in the Aug. 11-31 tournament.
There are no players from India or England but several high-profile cricketers, most notably West Indies batsman Chris Gayle, Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi, Australian paceman Ryan Harris and South African seamer Albie Morkel, will be involved.
Hard-hitting opener Gayle will be the highest-paid player on $100,000 while Afridi is to earn $50,000.
“We've got some of the best television platforms around the world,” Bhammer said.
“We've also partnered with YouTube on the SLPL website and on a YouTube channel so that people have got access to watch the tournament even if they haven't got access to television platforms that show cricket.
“We are very excited,” Bhammer added.
“We are going to see the culmination and fruition of two years of hard work to deliver a world-class tournament in Sri Lanka.”
Bhammer said the event would bring substantial financial benefits to the island nation.
“It is going to generate almost 580 million Sri Lanka rupees ($4.40 million) of annual income for the Sri Lankan economy,” he added.
“In addition to that, there is going to be almost 130 million rupees coming in from hotel accommodation alone. There is a lot of employment that will be created.
“There are franchise owners who are coming and commentators, production crews and tourists.”
Bhammer said Sri Lanka had been starved of international recognition for too long.
“This is really Sri Lanka's time to bask in glory and we believe the world really needs to take notice of this beautiful island nation which has been so good to cricket in terms of delivering some of the finest talent,” he added.
“It's time for the world to give back to Sri Lanka what Sri Lanka has given the rest of the world,” said Bhammer in a reference to players like Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas, Mahela Jayawardene, Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara.