Australia’s cricketers have raised ethical concerns about touring Sri Lanka but will support a decision from officials to proceed with next month’s tour.
Australia are due to fly out to Sri Lanka next week, with the island country in the midst of an economical crisis and political unrest.
Sri Lanka was placed under a curfew early this month after protests turned deadly, and while those have been lifted rising inflation and shortages of key resources remain problematic.
Cricket Australia officials received further assurances last week that the tour was safe to go ahead, after a reconnaissance of the country by their own head of security in April also gave the go ahead.
Players are also buoyed by the fact Australia’s first tour to Pakistan in 24 years went off without any security dramas, despite instances of bloodshed in the country. But it is believed some players have stated unease about the morals around touring Sri Lanka in the current circumstances.
The three-match Twenty20 series will be played under lights in the capital of Colombo, in a nation where there are rolling power cuts. It is believed there was some recent 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 in Pallekele before the Tests in Galle, at a time of significant fuel shortages. The Australian Cricketers Association are aware of the concerns of some players, but CEO Todd Greenberg said there was no suggestion its members would not 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.”
There is however also a belief that the tour going ahead can help Sri Lanka’s economy, with official figures showing inflation at a record of 33.8% year-on-year in April. Australia have not toured the country since 2016, and would be expected to drive big crowds in the matches in Colombo, Pallekele and Galle.
Led by Pat Cummins, Australia’s cricketers also drove a fundraising campaign with the United Nations during last year’s Indian Premier League at a time of a horror Covid-19 wave impacting the country. The charitable option is not as easy in Sri Lanka given the situation is not a humanitarian crisis, but players are open to the idea of offering support if 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 they saw. Almost immediately, they coalesced their support behind a UNHCR campaign to raise funds and provide hospitals with much-needed oxygen.”