Civil unrest in Sri Lanka prompts match changes for Australia tour – Sydney Morning Herald

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This was published 8 months ago
Ongoing turmoil in Sri Lanka has forced changes to Australia’s white-ball matches on next month’s tour.
With the country short of fuel and medicines, and struggling with rolling power cuts, Australia’s three Twenty20 and five one-day matches between June 7 and 24 have been moved to day games.
While the changes are yet to be officially announced by the governing body in Sri Lanka, a source close to Australian cricket confirmed they would take place.
Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Todd Greenberg admits the players feel “a level of discomfort” about touring Sri Lanka in the circumstances.
“The players are very aware of the situation in Sri Lanka, and it’s fair to say there is a level of discomfort around touring in conditions that contrast those faced by the people of Sri Lanka, such as rising food prices, power cuts and fuel rationing,” Greenberg said.
“Ultimately, our players want to continue to play cricket and will take direction, guidance and advice from CA about tour arrangements and planning.
Pro-government and anti-government protestors clash in Sri Lanka outside the president’s office in Colombo earlier this month.Credit:AP
“Our players are very fortunate to be able to ply their trade across the world and, as part of this, they form an affinity with the people from these countries.
“We saw an example of that last year when the players left the IPL in India during the COVID crisis and were genuinely shaken by what they saw. Almost immediately, they coalesced their support behind a UNHCR campaign to raise funds and provide hospitals with much-needed oxygen.”
Despite the unrest, Cricket Australia claims the tour, which also includes two Tests, starting on June 29 and July 8, will go ahead as planned. The squad is due to leave on Wednesday.
“We are keeping a close eye on developments in Sri Lanka and talking regularly with DFAT [Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade] and Sri Lanka Cricket,” Cricket Australia said in a statement.
“Our players and support staff have been briefed and will continue to be kept up to date. At this stage, there are no changes to the schedule.”
Lights at Sri Lankan cricket grounds run on generators and while another shipment of fuel arrived in the country recently, it was considered prudent that cricket should avoid using the scarce resource.
Annual inflation in the island nation rose to a record 33.8 per cent in April as Sri Lanka battles its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, due to an ongoing shortage of foreign exchange.
Reuters reported that the financial trouble has come from the confluence of COVID-19 battering the tourism-reliant economy, rising oil prices and populist tax cuts by the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Mahinda, who resigned as prime minister this month.
Economists have said fuel and power price hikes would be necessary to plug a massive gap in Sri Lanka’s government revenues.
Dhananath Fernando, an analyst for Colombo-based think tank Advocata Institute, said prices of petrol have soared 259 per cent since October last year and diesel by 231 per cent. Prices of food and other essential goods have surged, he said.
The Sri Lankan Navy said on Tuesday it had apprehended 67 people attempting to illegally flee the country from the north-eastern coast.
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