The Roar
The Roar



Cricket offers respite for crisis-hit Sri Lanka

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
Roar Pro
6th June, 2022

It could not have come at a better time.

Cricket may be far away from the minds of every Sri Lankan right now but given how bad the political and economic crisis has been there in recent months, it could be the very thing the island nation needs to instil some hope and joy in this desperate situation.

Sri Lanka has been brought to its knees as the economic turmoil continues to worsen with no sign of abating anytime soon.

Imagine if the whole of Sri Lanka was one massive overdue credit card bill. Not only are they overdue and behind in payments, but they’re also in arrears and have no feasible way of paying back the bank at all for the foreseeable future. This is how bad it has become, and it’s hurting the whole country.

Sri Lanka’s shattered economy has caused the price of petrol to skyrocket astronomically. Staples like bread, rice and milk powder are in scant supply and have become ridiculously expensive.

There are large scale power cuts that go on for over half the day, meaning that most people are living without reliable electricity for days and weeks on end. Many Sri Lankans are struggling to make ends meet, often going on just one meal a day as they continue to live in abject poverty.

The people are angry and fed up with their incompetent government with wide-scale protests and demonstrations occurring all over the island. It’s become quite violent in some places, as the police enact military-like offensives against unarmed citizens who are often peacefully protesting to demand that their current government must stand down.


It is hardly the most welcoming place to host a full-blown international cricket tour and yet, Aaron Finch, Pat Cummins and their battle-hardened, brave Australian team have arrived safely in Sri Lanka. Despite all the civil unrest happening over there now, cricket has always been the subliminal peacekeeper for Sri Lankans; the calm, collected eye of the storm if you will.

There is no doubt that the island is desperate to see some quality cricket on their home turf whilst having a reason to cheer and be hopeful once more, and so Australia has been welcomed with open arms. It’s also not a bad way to get some much need cashflow back into the Sri Lankan economy.

Historically speaking, there is something uncanny about hard times, adversity and political crises coincidentally bringing out the best in Sri Lankan cricket. Some of this country’s greatest cricketing triumphs have occurred when the country itself was deep in the mire, be it via some environmental, terrorism or political-related shitstorm.

Sri Lankan cricketers are a resilient bunch. It was in the thick of civil war that they won the 1996 Cricket World Cup. Less than a year after a violent terrorist bombing on the Colombo International airport, Sri Lanka reached the final of the 2002 Champions Trophy.

Less than two years in the aftermath of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, Sri Lanka bludgeoned their way to the final of the 2007 World Cup. When the civil war reached its bloody and violent end, Sri Lanka again made it to the final of the 2009 Twenty20 World Cup and 2011 World cup.


Less than a month before the devastating 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, Sri Lanka became the first Asian country to win a Test series against South Africa in South Africa.

Pathum Nissanka

(Photo by Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

And now this.

Categorically, the current political and economic crisis is probably the worst calamity Sri Lanka has ever had to face as it’s affecting the whole island. However, it just might mean that we get to witness the home side play some of their best cricket as Sri Lankans look to them once more for hope and inspiration.

In recent years, Australia has proven to be a wonderful friend of Sri Lankan cricket in times of need. The late great Shane Warne was one of the first Australian players to fly over and rebuild the island out of his own pocket when Sri Lanka was decimated by the Boxing Day tsunami.

In Sri Lanka’s formative years as a cricketing nation, they benefited greatly from coaches like Tom Moody and Dav Whatmore who turned them from easy-beats to a formidable force on the international stage. Australia in return hired the services of Sri Lankan spin king Muttiah Muralitharan to coach their own spinners.

Nathan Lyon has even admitted that much of his wicket-taking success in the latter part of his career was due to Murali’s tutelage.


So how fitting is it that Australia is once more the first to arrive on scene when Sri Lanka is in yet another crisis. It shows how strong, amicable and respectful the bond between these two nations has become over the years.

The Warne-Muralitharan trophy on Sri Lankan soil should produce a mouth-watering contest as the home side will be keen to impress now that their veterans have finally hit some match-winning form.

Expect some fierce cricket from the Sri Lankans as they strive to embody the style of play from their halcyon days. They can be extremely potent in their own backyard, and although they last played a Test series against Australia back in 2016 at home, they thrashed them three-nil.

Herath may no longer be around, but Sri Lanka still have a plethora of spinners who more than a handful on a turning wicket. With Wanindu Hasaranga also in the mix, Australia face yet another arduous trial by spin.

Still, the Aussies have every reason to be optimistic and confident about their ability to succeed against Sri Lanka. Especially in white-ball cricket they have had the wood over the Sri Lankans in recent times, a format that the latter have historically been better suited to.

In that 2016 tour, Australia returned serve and decimated Sri Lanka four-one and two-nil in the ODI and T20 matches respectively. Maxwell even walloped a ridiculous 145 off 65 balls in the first T20 of that series. Ridiculous.


Sports opinion delivered daily