Cricket provides a respite for those whose livelihoods are affected by Sri Lanka’s ongoing financial catastrophe. Sri Lanka is experiencing its worst economic downturn in recent history. Fuel, food, and medications are in limited supply.
While writing this, thousands stormed the president’s official residence in Colombo in one of the largest anti-government marches in the country this year.
Long waits are demanded to get basic daily requirements such as cooking gas, petrol, and so on. The government has closed schools and universities, disrupting normal life there. Public transportation is also unavailable.
People are in considerable difficulty because they are able to feed and provide for their households.
Meanwhile, Cricket is a mental healer for them, a respite from the dearth going on around them. It is the only thing that lets them forget the darkness they are experiencing.
“Yes, there is a problem in the country – people have become poor and helpless with all kinds of problems. We have been living a monotonous life and sometimes spent five, six, seven days in fuel lines,” said Ujith Nilanth to Al Jazeera, who watched the first test between Sri Lanka and Australia with his 10-year-old son last week in the southern city of Galle.
“There is no happiness for children, and we can’t provide what the child needs. When we watch this [cricket] it brings a mental healing,” added Nilantha, whose livelihood in the tourism sector has been disrupted after arrivals fell with the energy crisis.
“We only have cricket in times of sadness,” he said. “We come here to watch cricket to get it off our minds.” said a 16-year-old Nethumaksila, who is scheduled to appear for public exams this year but is unable to prepare properly because the schools are closed.
Sri Lankan cricketers back protesters
Former Sri Lankan cricketers have voiced their support to the ongoing protests over the island nation’s worst economic crisis.
“I am a part of the protest and stand with the people’s demand… this protest has been going on for over three months,” Sri Lankan former cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya tells news agency ANI on the recent protest in Colombo.
Former Sri Lanka cricket team captain Kumar Sangakkara shares a video of the protests in Colombo, while writing: “This is for our future.”