Sri Lanka v Australia Tests - Men
Aussies wary of Sri Lanka issues but tour proceeding
Australian players looking into ways they can support Sri Lankans with the country in an economic crisis ahead of touring party's departure next week
25 May 2022, 02:11 PM AEST
Australia's first tour of Sri Lanka in six years is set to proceed as planned while some players have expressed concern about the impact of travelling to a country in the midst of an economic crisis and political unrest.
Some players were said to have "a level of discomfort" about touring while Sri Lankans face significant fuel shortages, rolling power cuts, a desperate shortage of medicine and supplies and ballooning inflation.
But there is no suggestion any player will opt out of the tour, with the squad scheduled to fly out next week for the three-format tour that begins with T20 matches from June 7.
It will be Australia's first visit to the island nation since 2016.
The Australian Cricketers' Association CEO Todd Greenberg said some players had raised questions about the moral and ethical implications of the tour given the situation in Sri Lanka, but would tour.
"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 told AAP.
"Ultimately our players want to continue to play cricket and will take direction, guidance and advice from CA about tour arrangements and planning."
CA has remained steadfast that the tour would proceed.
Having recommitted to it a fortnight ago when protests first turned violent, despite Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) saying Australians should "reconsider" their need to travel to the country, CA has received further assurances that the tour was safe to go ahead.
A reconnaissance of the country by the governing body's own head of security in April also gave the go ahead.
And there is a belief that by touring, Australia could help Sri Lanka's economy with an expectation they would drive big crowds in the matches in Colombo, Pallekele and Galle.
Players are also buoyed by the fact Australia's first tour to Pakistan in 24 years went off without any security dramas earlier this year, despite continued unrest in nearby areas.
The three-match Twenty20 series is scheduled to be played under lights in the capital of Colombo – a fact that does not sit well with the tourists given Sri Lankas are facing rolling power cuts lasting up to 15 hours per day.
It's believed there had been some consideration those matches could be changed to day games, but that has not yet been confirmed.
The team will also be moving across the nation for ODIs to be played at the Pallekele Stadium, outside Kandy, with a concurrent Australia A tour visiting Colombo and Hambantota, before the two Tests in Galle, at a time of significant fuel shortages.
The Sri Lankan government this week hiked petrol prices by at least 20 per cent while diesel prices rose by 35 per cent. The measures are designed to combat the crippling economic crisis, but officials have conceded they will cause pain for the country's 22 million residents.
Sri Lanka was placed under a 24-hour curfew earlier this month after protests turned deadly. Restrictions have since been eased but after being hit hard by the pandemic, rising oil prices and tax cuts, Sri Lanka is in the throes of its worst economic crisis since independence from Great Britain in 1948, with official figures showing inflation at a record of 33.8 per cent year-on-year in April.
Australia's players in recent times have shown a willingness to look at the bigger picture, led by Test captain Pat Cummins.
The No.1 ranked Test bowler led a fundraising campaign with the United Nations during last year's Indian Premier League at a time a horror COVID-19 wave was impacting the country.
Cummins has also been an outspoken activist for climate change, and was a leading voice behind Cricket for Climate, an organisation pushing to install solar power at some 4000 clubs around Australia.
The Sri Lanka situation is not a humanitarian crisis but players are open to the idea of offering support where possible.
"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," Greenberg said.
"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."
Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka, 2022
T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner, Matthew Wade
June 7: First T20, Colombo
June 8: Second T20, Colombo
June 11: Third T20, Kandy
ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
June 14: First ODI, Kandy
June 16: Second ODI, Kandy
June 19: Third ODI, Colombo
June 21: Fourth ODI, Colombo
June 24: Fifth ODI, Colombo
Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
June 29 - July 3: First Test, Galle
July 8-12: Second Test, Galle
Australia A fixtures
Squad: Sean Abbott, Scott Boland, Pete Handscomb, Aaron Hardie, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Henry Hunt, Josh Inglis, Matthew Kuhnemann, Nic Maddinson, Todd Murphy, Josh Philippe, Matt Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, Tanveer Sangha, Mark Steketee
June 8: First one-day game v Sri Lanka A, Colombo
June 10: Second one-day game v Sri Lanka A, Colombo
June 14-17: first-class tour match v Sri Lanka A, Hambantota
June 21-24: first-class tour match v Sri Lanka A, Hambantota