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Sir Ian Botham is set to take a break from his commentary duties in South Africa to return to Sri Lanka with the Laureus Sport for Good foundation, where he will mark the fifth anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004.
In early 2005, Botham was one of the first high-profile cricketers to travel to the worst-affected areas on the south of the island to assess the damage and raise awareness. “Nothing prepared me for what I saw there,” he writes in his Laureus blog. “What made it even more horrifying was that I had been to these places before. In 2003 when I was covering cricket for Sky TV, I stayed at a house just along the beach from Galle – it wasn’t there anymore!
“The fishermen, the market stalls along the road, the other houses on the coast, they had all gone. The cricket ground looked like the surface of the moon. I can still recall the clock on the old Test ground in Galle frozen at ‘9.25am’ on December 26.”
Botham’s visit will be a two-day affair on December 1 and 2, during which time he will visit some of the communities and projects in and around Galle that have been rebuilding their lives since that fateful day. For example, the Foundation of Goodness in Seenigama has built a cricket ground that now allows boys and girls, aged from six upwards, to take part in inter-village sports leagues with matches and training sessions.
“I hope to find that the people of Sri Lanka are rebuilding their lives and that sport is helping people, particularly the younger ones, to finally put this devastating event behind them – and have fun again. They certainly deserve it.”
Read more about Botham’s trip and follow his progress at blog.laureus.com
Andrew Miller is the former UK editor of ESPNcricinfo and now editor of The Cricketer magazineFeeds: Andrew Miller
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