Why MCC President Kumar Sangakkara is backing Jaffna Stallions in new T20 comp

The T20 Lankan Premier League has got off to a flyer with one team in particular catching the eye of MCC President Kumar Sangakkara.

Sangakkara is following the tournament closely, but clearly has a soft spot for Jaffna Stallions, owned by British businessman Brindon Bagirathan, and who started with an eight wicket win against Shahid Afridi’s Galle Gladiators.

Jaffna, in the north of the country, is part of an area that bore the brunt of the Sri Lankan civil war that raged for 25 years before ending in 2009.

It was something Sangakkara spoke passionately about during his 2011 MCC Spirit of Cricket lecture, and it remains a subject close to his heart.

Sangakkara said: “As a leading cricket nation, it is high time Sri Lanka had a franchise based tournament that will benefit the game in this country.

“With Jaffna as a region, the untapped cricket talent there will improve the overall dynamics of talent in Sri Lanka cricket as a whole. This is the start of a journey and it is important to realise that.

Jaffna Stallions in Lanka Premier League action on Friday

There has never been a Sri Lankan international cricketer from Jaffna and that is something Bagirathan is hoping to change.

They have installed four players from the North and East into their squad, Theivendram Dinoshan, Kanagaratnam Kabilraj, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth and Sebastianpillai Vijeyaraj.

If one of them can go on to represent Sri Lanka at international level the success of the Lankan Premier League will be sealed, even if it is already hugely popular.

Stallions are owned by British businessman Brindon Bagirathan

More than 100 million viewers across the world, including on Sky Sports in the UK, tuned into the opening game and another 80 million plus saw Jaffna Stallions get off to a winnings start.

Bagirathan said: “As an owner we want to nurture and develop the talent in the area with an academy and a pathway.

“We want to give them an opportunity to showcase their skills on an international platform.

“It is hugely exciting to be involved with the Lankan Premier League where young talent in the country can perform in front of huge numbers on their doorstep, and the same goes for the talent we have from overseas such as Tom Moores and Shoaib Malik.”

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