Alert Critical: Australian cricket bats for Sri Lanka reaching out a fourth time | Sunday Observer

Alert Critical: Australian cricket bats for Sri Lanka reaching out a fourth time

12 June, 2022
Mitchell Starc-Steven Smith
Mitchell Starc-Steven Smith

Cricket and cricketers in Australia have come out on yet another occasion to lend a hand to Sri Lanka making them more of a family friend sharing grief and sorrow unlike in a bygone era when some islanders misunderstood them as bullies and racists.

This time the hand of the Aussie came in the form of a soothing appeal to back a United Nations move to help Sri Lanka battle against crippling food, fuel, cocking gas and agriculture shortages besides an alarming rise in prices of essential requirements to add to an acute shortage of drugs and medicine and frequent electricity blackouts that has taken the country into the dark ages of the past.

In their latest intervention, Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc and batsman Steven Smith have in a video message said they and their team-mates backed calls to help Sri Lanka through the UN that decided to raise 47 million US dollars in emergency funds.

“We are encouraging friends to assist in any way they can. The United Nations has launched a flash appeal in Sri Lanka to support all communities affected by this economic crisis”, said Starc who is no stranger to cricket followers in the island.

“We are in Sri Lanka raising awareness of the economic crisis. Just as our mate Shane Warne did in 2004 after the tsunami, because that is what neighbours do. We are proud that Australia is doing its bit”, said Smith.

Sri Lankan Cricket (SLC) chiefs too have been jolted from their seats with a warning that the tide was rising.

“We are in a critical stage,” said SLC’s veteran secretary Mohan de Silva. “This Australia tour will bring in an economic advantage and we hope to generate an income of 2.5 million (US) dollars (over Rs,900 million) that will circulate within the country so the people can benefit”.

Australian cricket first came to the rescue of Sri Lanka in 1996 when they provided funds to pay the salary of World Cup winning coach Dav Whatmore at a time the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka had just Rs.300,000 in a bank account.

On a personal level more than 20 years ago Australia’s cricketers on tour made a contribution and ensured that their team’s local baggage caretaker be given a fat purse as a donation so he could build a house that was only half done outside Colombo.

Down the years Australia’s charismatic bowler and legendary scalp hunter Shane Warne, who was despised by most Sri Lankans for obvious reasons, used his international celebrity image to raise funds to rebuilt the Galle International Cricket Stadium that was devastated by the Asian tsunami in 2004.

Warne, who met with a sudden death in March this year while on a holiday in Bangkok, Thailand, subsequently became one of Sri Lanka’s best loved foreigners.