Moon threatens to eclipse Champions Trophy match

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By The Telegraph Online in Colombo
  • Published 5.09.02

Colombo: Sri Lankan cricket officials and fans are hoping that this tropical island nation’s powerful Buddhist clergy won’t stop a Champions Trophy cricket match that falls on a full moon day.

The 12-nation International Cricket Council event, a grand showcase of world cricket leading up to the 2003 World Cup, starts September 12. South Africa was scheduled to meet Kenya on September 20 — a full moon day when this predominantly Buddhist nation usually shuts down.

On the monthly full moon days, offices close, butchers don’t sell meat and bars don’t serve alcohol. full moon days are sacred to Buddhists because they believe Buddha’s birth coincided with a full moon.

Worshippers, wearing white clothes, visit Buddhist shrines on these days. Of the 18.8 million Sri Lankans, 74 per cent are Buddhists and the remainder are either Hindus, Muslims or Christians.

Sri Lanka’s top cricket official Anura Tennakoon, however, said there will be no disruption in the ICC meet. “I am sure that everything will go on well,” Tennakoon, the chief executive of the cricket board said.

But fear remains that if any of the top Buddhist priests objects, the government and the cricket board will be forced to take action.

The potential scheduling stumbling block was raised last November, when the West Indies cricket squad was touring.

Alarmed by calls from the clergy to halt all sporting activities on poya day, or full moon day, top officials of the cricket board met with the four top priests and urged them to spare the West Indies match.

The board officials managed to convince the clergy that stopping the five-day Test match would have tarnished the image of Sri Lankan cricket abroad.

An exception was made and the Test went on. But the country’s cricket board vowed that in the future, matches wouldn’t be scheduled on a full moon day.

The former peoples’ alliance government then wrote it into law, prohibiting sports activities on full moon days. During Zimbabwe’s tour in December, a rest day was inserted during a Test because of the religious observance.

ICC meeting shifted

Meanwhile, the ICC cancelled a development committee meeting scheduled in Karachi for next month after delegates refused to visit Pakistan over security fears, officials said Wednesday, reports AFP.

“The ICC has conveyed to us that some of the delegates had concerns over their security and since the quorum was not complete the meeting would now be held in Amsterdam on the same dates on October 20 and 21,” an Asian Cricket Council spokesman said. (agencies)