England’s cricket stars have been told to stay away from political demonstrations while touring Sri Lanka, which is in the grip of a constitutional power struggle. One man has been killed in upheaval after President Maithripala Sirisena sacked the country’s prime minister and replaced him with former strongman leader Mahinda Rajapakse. “We are exercising vigilance and avoiding all demonstrations or large political gatherings,” England spokesman Danny Reuben told AFP.
“We are aware of a political demonstration today, but for us, it is all about preparations for the first Test,” Reuben said a four-day practice match in Colombo would go ahead as planned, despite the troubles in the capital.
England take on Sri Lanka in the first Test at Galle, in the south of the country, on November 6. England are due to stay in Sri Lanka until November 27 when the third Test ends. The dispute between sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Rajapakse has already hit Sri Lanka’s cricket establishment.
On Sunday, bodyguards for Petroleum Minister Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka’s captain when they won the 1996 World Cup, opened fire at a crowd as they moved to rescue him from Rajapakse supporters. One man was killed and two others were wounded. Ranatunga was arrested Monday on an allegation of ordering the shooting but was released on bail.