Cricket Australia (CA) insists it remains committed to touring Sri Lanka next month despite political unrest prompting the Australian government to suggest citizens “reconsider” their need to travel to the island.
Three weeks out from the national men’s team scheduled arrival in Colombo for a three-format tour, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has updated its travel advice for Sri Lanka after the nation’s devastating economic crisis triggered violence this week.
CA issued a statement on Thursday suggesting its plans for the six-week long tour featuring matches in Kandy, Galle, Hambantota as well as the capital Colombo remain in place.
“We are keeping a close eye on developments in Sri Lanka and talking regularly with DFAT and Sri Lanka Cricket,” said a spokesperson.
“Our players and support staff have been briefed and will continue to be kept up to date. There are three weeks until the scheduled departure of the squad and at this stage there are no changes to the schedule.”
Amid fuel, food and medicine shortages, the mostly peaceful demonstrations that had been held over the past month boiled over into violent clashes this week, leading to prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigning.
A curfew is in place and security forces have been ordered to shoot looters on sight.
DFAT’s “reconsider your need to travel” advice is the same as the advisory in place for Pakistan, where Australia successfully toured for three Tests and as well four limited-overs matches in March-April, albeit with heavy security provisions.
The men’s team have also toured Bangladesh (in 2017 and 2021) when security was a concern. The only hitch on either of those tours was when local kids threw a rock at the Aussie team bus in Chittagong during the second Test in 2017, with no one hurt in the incident.
CA’s head of security Stuart Bailey visited Sri Lanka last month and cleared it safe to visit.
“Several violent incidents have taken place during large demonstrations,” DFAT’s travel advice to Australians, updated on Wednesday, now reads. “Avoid demonstrations and events that draw large groups.
“Public demonstrations continue to occur throughout Sri Lanka. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transport.
“You may experience disruption to fuel supply and planned, lengthy power outages. Import delays may impact your ability to access some medicines and food items.”
Australia have not toured Sri Lanka since 2016 when both its men’s and women’s teams played matches on the island. A men’s Australia A team is also scheduled to play four matches on the tour next month.