Being an online supporter of Sri Lanka does not make one lonely. Surely not even 407 of the 16,407 spectators at the men’s T20 World Cup opener on Sunday at Kardinia Park were there to support Namibia. It wasn’t only because it was a chilly spring evening in Geelong when just 47 people remained to see the United Arab Emirates play the Netherlands after the game was done.
Loneliness would not have been one of the many emotions the fans would have experienced during and after the jarring Namibian victory.
There were countless shoulders available for crying as well as for crying on. The Papare Band Melbourne, who are entirely Sri Lankans, was also present to soothe wounded spirits.
465,000 Sri Lankans live in India, Australia, and the United Kingdom, three nations where Sri Lankans may see their team play sometimes and number in the more than two million that call these countries home. 25 nations with cricket federations that are associate members of the ICC host an additional 1.63 million players. That includes the remaining two million with a few thousand extra.
A cricket squad that never quits
The primary motivation for Sri Lankans to leave their country would not be the ability to play or watch cricket or even just the knowledge that it is close by.
However, it can’t hurt to know that the game will be there to help take the edge off the unfamiliarity, no matter what else they have to give up, such as hoppers, arrack, warmth, family, or friends, or living while brown in a region of the globe where brownness is the norm. Wherever they end up, cricket may be the only thing that reminds them of home in their new environment. If you are, instance, in Cyprus, you might not be able to see Sri Lanka play. However, you will be able to hear bat on ball.
The majority of Sri Lankan immigrants to Australia reside in Melbourne, about 80 kilometres up the highway from Geelong. Two of them, both in their mid-30s, travelled to Thursday’s play at Kardinia Park versus the Netherlands. According to Harsha, he arrived in Australia “more than 20 years ago.” Likewise, Lashan.
What did they believe Sri Lanka needed to do to transform back into the type of team they were in 1996, when they accomplished what the rest of us thought was impossible by winning the World Cup?
Lashan replied, his raspy Australian accent breaking through his generally soothing south Asian tones, “We’re a long way from there, man.” They must have a strategy in place to restart Sri Lankan cricket, suggested Harsha.
Mate, there’s no plan,” responded Lashan. But if there was, test cricket would need to be resolved first.
Harsha agreed: “Right. And that calls for organising local cricket.”
Being a distant supporter of Sri Lanka doesn’t make one feel lonely or isolated, not even while they are being interviewed by the media. Whether you ask them to or not, your partner will assist you in providing the necessary information.