In a media release, Sri Lanka Cricket stated, “Sri Lanka Cricket has decided to immediately halt all board-conducted domestic tournaments.” This includes the ongoing Major Club 3-Day Tournament and the Invitational Club Tier ‘B’ 3-Day Tournament.
The roots of this situation trace back to 2021 when SLC initiated a plan to overhaul its domestic cricket structure, which had long been criticized for its unwieldy nature. The restructuring plan, recommended by the Technical Advisory Committee led by Aravinda de Silva, aimed to eliminate the existing two-tier structure and introduce two groups comprising 13 teams each.
Under this new structure, these 26 teams would engage in three-day matches throughout the season, ultimately resulting in 15 teams participating in Sri Lanka’s premier domestic tournament, addressing concerns about its excessive size while elevating the quality of cricket.
However, the relegation system had the unintended consequence of leaving relegated teams without a three-day tournament to compete in, which the clubs objected to.
Responding to these complaints, SLC held an Emergency General Meeting on June 17, where its members voted to reinstate the previous two-tier system that existed before 2021. This decision was approved by SLC membership, leading to the commencement of the Major Club 3-Day Tournament and the Invitational Club Tier B 3-Day Tournament in June and July 2023, respectively.
To determine the teams participating in the new Tier B tournament, SLC included the four relegated teams from 2022 and the top six teams from the Governor’s Trophy tournament. However, Gesto Cricket Club, a team near the bottom of the Governor’s Trophy tournament, contested this decision. Although the precise reasons for their objection remain unclear, they took the matter to Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeals. In August, the Court of Appeals decided to hear the case at a later date, allowing the tournaments to continue as planned.
Unsatisfied with this outcome, GCC appealed to Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Sports, which ratified their appeal. The Director General of Sports subsequently wrote to SLC on August 25, stating that any changes to a tournament’s structure must be made through a modification to SLC’s constitution, requiring the sports minister’s approval. SLC claims to have sought the sports minister’s approval but had not received a response.
They proceeded with the change, considering it a reasonable assumption since it involved a return to the previous format, which had been in place for several years and was approved by its members. This, however, is now the point of contention which has seen the domestic tournaments scrapped altogether.