Conflict hit Sri Lanka bank hopes on Australia's tour
Strife hit Sri Lanka pin hopes on Australia's tour
The aggravating political and economic climate in Sri Lanka has loomed clouds over Australia's forthcoming tour to the country next month. Although both the Australian Cricket Board and Sri Lankan Cricket Board have stated that the month-long series will be played as scheduled. “At present the tour will go on as planned. We will be looking at the developments in the next couple of days and decide what to do," Mohan De Silva, Sri Lankan Cricket Board Secretary said this addressing the media on Wednesday.
Australia will play three T20Is, five ODIs and two tests from June 7 to July 12. The ambiguity, which often the board officials are conceding is because of the precarious situation at ground zero. There has been a severe shortage of essentials like fuel, food, stocks; people are facing long hours of power outage. In the midst of such testing times, planning an entire tour can be exceedingly difficult. There were questions if the Sri Lankan Cricket Board should have the day-night games in the first place with a few stakeholders of the board considering converting white ball games into day games. De Silva said that a call will soon be taken but a board official recently said that the board is not dependent on the national grid.
"We have our own generators and we don't depend on the government's power. It will be a different case if there is a fuel shortage," said Charith Senanayake, a former manager of the Sri Lanka national team. "The political situation has no bearing on the game and the Sri Lankan Cricket Board is always apolitical."
The SL Cricket Board is also planning to start its full-fledged domestic season from May 22.
"Whether day or day-night game is up to the host nation," said a spokesman of the Australian Cricket Board confirming that the tour will take place. "There is no change to the status of the tour. Our head of security confirms that there are no concerns about the tour proceeding as scheduled from either side. The squad will arrive (in Sri Lanka) in June."
The option of moving the series outside Sri Lanka was contemplated but UAE is not the ideal place to host a series in June-July because of extreme heat.
Both boards have assured the series to go as planned but we can confirm that the Australian Cricket Board and Sri Lankan Cricket Board have expressed concerns internally with their stakeholders saying a lot will depend on how the situation pans out in the next 30 days.
"One month is too long a time to predict anything because we do know what will happen in the next week. Like in any civil unrest, life moves on and that is happening in Sri Lanka (too). The country has gone bankrupt and the political situation is volatile and unclear. The political activists are agitating outside the president's house but I don't think he is anyway concerned.
"The law enforcing authorities, with their past experience, are accommodating and there is no unrest on the streets. The people are listening to music at home and they will watch cricket too. But it will take one insane person to disturb the quietness, so we can't predict what will be the state of affairs when the series is scheduled to begin more than a month ago," says Colombo-based Malinda Seneviratne, a political analyst.
The series is very important to the financially weak SLCB. The overseas value of this tour is about USD 2 million. The internal media rights is estimated to be about USD 300,000 and via ground advertisements and other sources of income, the Lanka Board can raise up to USD 3 million overall. But the production expenditure would be just as high too. At the end of the series, the SLCB could be left with USD 1 million revenue, a substantial amount by all means considering that the country is left with only $50 million foreign exchange.
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