Tamils in Sri Lanka long for cricket
By Gavin Van Hoff | October 15, 2012
A group of Tamil cricket enthusiasts from Sri Lanka have launched a petition asking India to aid Sri Lanka's financially-crippled cricket board in building cricket stadiums in Tamil-speaking areas of the island.
They argue that proposed stadiums in Nuwara Eliya and Trincomalee have not materialised, depriving Tamils in the area of cricket and the development of the sport.
Somasundaram Yogeswaran, who initiated the petition on behalf of Tamil cricket fans, said that he has turned to India's help because "India does a lot to build the livelihoods of Sri Lankan Tamils from housing to job creation."
"But cricketing superpower India has done nothing to improve cricketing infrastructure in Tamil speaking areas," Yogeswaran said.
"The end result is, we Tamil cricket fans ending up with no cricketing facilities of international standard. Is this a conspiracy against the Tamils?
"Players from Tamil areas are forced to come to Colombo if they are to stand a chance to win international fame in cricket. This is the undeniable reality."
Sri Lanka's cricket board is facing an unprecedented financial crisis after constructing two new stadiums, including one named after the Sri Lankan president in his hometown, for the World Cup in 2011. Government debt stood at nearly 80-percent of GDP last year. According to a report released earlier this year by British NGO Jubilee Debt Campaign, Sri Lanka is "one of the most indebted countries in the global south."
The parlous state of the cricket board's finances has hindered the development of the sport on the island. In order to compensate for the lack of funds, stadiums owned by the board are now maintained by the armed forces, while cricket enthusiasts and players from distant provinces can no longer count on the governing body of cricket on the island to assist them. The number of contracted cricketers too has been slashed.
"We request the government of India to take steps to build three international cricket stadia in the three Tamil speaking capital cities of Nuwara Eliya, Jaffna and Trincomalee, where Tamils of the upcountry, north and east of Sri Lanka reside," Yogeswaran said in his appeal to India.
While the Sri Lankan cricket board is unable to assist financially, they have also made no effort to include players from Tamil-speaking areas in the inaugural SLPL, and have done very little to accommodate players and fans from the war-ravaged north and east. Although the northern province is represented in Sri Lanka's new inter-provincial T20 tournament, players from the region were not selected.
According to an article by Island Cricket columnist Michael Roberts, the residents of Mannar district have formed their own cricket league, with support from sponsors and well-wishers abroad, but are unable to get any cooperation from the cricket board.
"The Mannar District Cricket Association applied for registration to the [cricket board] quite some time ago (years) but not had a response to date," the article stated.
"Recently, the Star Eagles wrote to the [cricket board] requesting a cricket official’s presence at the opening ceremony, but again didn’t get very far."
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan cricket stars, along with the charity Foundation of Goodness, have attempted to fill the void the cricket board has been unable and unwilling to fill.
The Murali Harmony Cup 2012 Twenty20 tournament saw a new cricket ground launched in Oddusuddan in Mullaitivu province last month and under-19 and under-23 cricketers from Jaffna, Oddusuddan, Mankulam, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya taking part.
© Island Cricket