A room full of SLC officials, sponsors, national skipper Dimuth Karunarathne, media personnel and others experienced a jolt and a chilling ripple of unease when a sudden booming sound interrupted the press conference held to introduce the new Sponsor of the Sri Lanka cricket team at Hotel Taj on Friday, and it took a few moments before it resumed amid a collective sigh of relief.
That incident illustrates the crippling tension gripping every Sri Lankan these days, two weeks after the spate of bombings on Easter Sunday, 21 April stole over 300 innocent lives, ripped the fabric of hard-won peace, wrecked the economy devastated a citizenry barely recovered from decades of senseless bloodshed and cast a pall over a people who have undergone more than their fair share of suffering.
Addressing this sad state of affairs, Sri Lanka Cricket Secretary Mohan de Silva quite rightly noted that National Cricketers – who themselves have had firsthand experience of the threat of terror – have the ability to bring some consolation, happiness and even healing for fellow Sri Lankans during the forthcoming World Cup.
“We expect our team to play some scintillating cricket to soothe their compatriots’ sorrows and bring a measure of joy to our motherland,” said de Silva during the course of the conference.
“As you know, cricket is not merely a game. It’s a virtual religion in this country. And therefore there’s a lot of expectation. Spectators are so passionate that they also play an integral part, as they desire be active partners in this great game,” he remarked.