Sri Lanka cricketer Dhammika Prasad’s efforts to help the poor and the needy, during the world’s darkest hour in recent decades, need to be commended. Prasad, Sri Lanka’s Headingly hero when they recorded a first ever Test series win in England, has so far helped out 1000 families, giving away food rations for a week. He has appealed to friends and family to contribute so that he can reach the mark of helping 2000 families next week.
Covid19 has crippled the nation and has had a devastating effect the world over with the businesses set to collapse and economies taking months if not years to recover. The plight of the daily wage earner is catastrophic as he simply has no way to make ends meet. Families with infants are most vulnerable, unable to purchase essentials due to the ongoing curfew. Bread winners queued up for hours in front of supermarkets when the curfew was lifted but were only able to purchase the left overs as the ‘first come first served’ policy resulted in supermarkets being emptied in double quick time. Maybe a cash limit per customer at supermarkets will put an end to frenzy buying.
In this hour of need, the likes of Prasad are godsends, reaching out to every nook and corner of Gampaha and Colombo districts where the residents have been most affected due to the extended curfew.
Prasad has been helped by a few likeminded players and neighbours. His house looks as if one of those Disaster Relief Centers where essentials are gathered and then redistributed among those in need. Despite curfew being imposed, with the help of Police, Prasad himself moves around to give away the food packs putting his own health in danger. Having witnessed the plight, he appeals that a lot more needs to be done and all those who are in a position to help need to join him in his efforts to fight hunger. Not just with food packs, he has also parted with money generously helping those sportsmen who are not as affluent as cricketers to look into their daily needs like medicine.
Before being hit by a recurring back injury in 2015 and then wrong diagnosis prolonging his stay away from the game, Prasad was a tearaway fast bowler who had plenty to say to batsmen. The running battle he had with Ishant Sharma during the SSC Test in August 2015 resulted in a heated altercation. Match Referee Andy Pycroft fined Prasad 50 percent of his match fee. His accomplice Dinesh Chandimal was not so lucky as he was suspended for a game for ‘deliberate physical contact’.
An angry Prasad engaging in verbal abuse of opposition isn’t the greatest image to market spirit of cricket but away from the cricketing field, the humanitarian work he does has touched many hearts.
Sri Lanka Cricket’s generous donation of Rs. 25 million to fight the disaster has been welcomed from all corners as well. While the fund has gone direct to the government, the efforts individuals like Prasad are taking is bringing smiles back in those who are most affected by the disaster.
Many who depended heavily on cricket to make their living have been left high and dry due to the worst health disaster that we have known in our life time. Not only those who are making a living direct out of cricket like players, coaches, curators and ground staff but others like those in the hospitality industry who heavily depended on the two Test series between England and Sri Lanka.
When you cover Sri Lankan cricket, you come across many former international players turned…………………..
With around 5000 Barmy Army fans expected to visit Galle and Colombo, the hotels were expected to by full and many who are in the trade are cursing the calamity. The official tour operator alone, a small business owner, had paid Sri Lanka Cricket, a sum of Rs. Six million to gain the official license to be the tour operator.
While the big businesses will survive, it is the small entrepreneurs who suffer most and the fact is evident by the amount of people you see queuing outside jewelry shops to pawn their valuables.
All major sporting events are expected to get a hit this year including the Olympics in Japan. Cricket is no different and despite Kevin Roberts, the CEO of Cricket Australia, being optimistic that the T-20 World Cup will go ahead as scheduled, hope is fading away that the series will be on schedule.
This year was supposed to be bumper year for SLC with inbound tours of England, India, South Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The board’s finances are going to take a severe beating if these series are not going to take place. However, cricket is the last thing in everyone’s mind at the moment. There are far more serious things at stake than sports.
The advice that all cricket lovers can be given is to stay inside and not to step outside the crease.