Lanka's political crisis fails to deter Eng tour
Michael Vaughan brushed aside security fears Friday as his team began a tour of Sri Lanka, despite the country's recent political upheavals.india Updated: Nov 14, 2003 20:46 IST
England cricket captain Michael Vaughan brushed aside security fears Friday as his team began a tour of Sri Lanka, despite the country's recent political upheavals.
Vaughan said the England side did not hesitate to go ahead with its visit to this former British colony, which comes amid an unprecedented power struggle between the country's president and prime minister.
"We had a splendid time the last time we were here in 2001 and look forward to a similar time this time too," he said, adding that the team members, as well as the 5,000 England fans travelling with them, had no reservations about the tour.
Sri Lanka plunged in political crisis November 4 when President Chandrika Kumaratunga sacked three ministers and suspended parliament for two weeks, prompting Norway Friday to suspend its bid for peace between the government and Tamil rebels and casting a shadow over the island's fragile calm.
Sri Lanka Cricket Chairman Thilanga Sumathipala said millions of fans in Sri Lankan were looking forward to the tournament as a chance to put aside politics and enjoy the game, which is almost a religion here.
"This is a time for our people to put aside politics and enjoy cricket," Sumathipala said.
Vaughan said the England's five and a half week tour of Bangladesh had prepared them for conditions in the subcontinent and they were looking forward to a challenging three Tests and as many one dayers against Sri Lanka.
"This is a challenge we are looking forward to. We will give our best shot," he said.
Sri Lankan coach John Dyson said meticulous preparations were made for the England tour.
Sri Lanka's one day international skipper Marvan Atapattu said he was pleased with the practice they have had and is ready to take on England, which was beaten in the shorter version of the game in 2001.
"We are ready to go now," he said.