Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has rejected the BCCI's claim that the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) is a private-party organised tournament, saying that the SLPL is owned and approved by SLC - and so, automatically, by the ICC - and that Singapore-based Somerset Ventures only owns the commercial rights to the tournament. The BCCI had on Saturday said it would not allow Indian players to participate in the tournament on the grounds that it was a privately-run event but the reality is that there is little difference between the SLPL and the BCCI-run IPL.
"This tournament is approved by SLC," its secretary Nishantha Ranatunga told ESPNcricinfo. "And Somerset are the marketing arm, having won the rights through a tender process. Nobody can say it is owned by Somerset."
Somerset is responsible for the logistics and marketing of the tournament, a role similar to the one IMG plays for the IPL. And unlike in the IPL where the teams are owned by private franchises, it is SLC that owns the seven teams in the tournament and will determine which players are assigned to which teams, thereby giving them a substantial degree of control over the event.
The BCCI had initially stated it had no problems with the proposed league and that Indian players were free to take part, as long as there was no conflict with India's international or domestic schedule. However, on Saturday came the board's announcement denying permission to the 12 Indian cricketers who'd sought No-Objection Certificates to participate in the SLPL on the grounds that it is Somerset who would be handling the contracts for international players, and that could lead to complications for the players should disputes arise.
That sudden volte face has left SLC "surprised and hurt", Ranatunga said, and the board will be meeting on Monday to discuss how to tackle the situation. "We need to explain the matter to the BCCI and whatever the concerns that they have, we need to give them an explanation. It is very important to have them [Indian players] as they add a lot of value and glamour to the tournament."
However, when asked whether he was hopeful a solution could be found, Ranatunga said, "I really don't know. We will have to wait and see."
The SLPL will be played between July 19 and August 4 at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Several foreign players including Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Shahid Afridi, Daniel Vettori, Kevin O'Brien and Herschelle Gibbs have already been signed for the tournament.