Tuesday, April 19, 2005

England Cricket legend Ian Botham visits tsunami victims in Sri Lanka

Cricket legend Botham to help tsunami victims

by Sa'adi Thawfeeq

Daily News, Colombo

English cricket legend Ian Botham will arrive in Sri Lanka today on a fact-finding mission to assist tsunami affected victims. Kushil Gunasekera speaking on behalf of the Muralitharan-Gunasekera-Vaas Foundation which is handling arrangements at this end said that Botham has been sent on this mission as an ambassador of the Laureus World Sports Award in conjuction with the Shane Warne Foundation.

The Laureus World Sports Annual Awards is the first global sports awards program which honours the achievements of sportsmen and sportswomen around the world and has established a unique place in the sporting world.

Accompanying Botham will be CEO of the Shane Warne Foundation Brad Grapsas who was here in February when Warne himself made a personal visit to Sri Lanka to find out for himself how best his Foundation could help the tsunami victims.

Outlining the program for Botham's visit, Gunasekara said that he would travel to the Galle Cricket Stadium on Wednesday morning and survey the damage. Botham will also meet and talk with people connected with cricket.

In the afternoon Botham is scheduled to travel to Seenigama and Peraliya two villages ravaged by the tsunami.

At Seenigama, the village of Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan's manager Kushil Gunasekara, Botham will discuss current and future projects and also meet the children.

At Peraliya where the train tragedy occurred, he will discuss immediate needs and future projects.

Botham (48) was one of the finest all-round cricketers produced by England. Almost as legendary as his cricket was his achievement as a tireless fundraiser for Leukaemia Research where he undertook walks between 1985 and 1999 raising an astonishing 4.5 million pounds sterling. Awarded the OBE in 1992, Botham is also a renowned television commentator.

In February, Australia's legendary leg-spinner Warne paid a visit to Galle and Seenigama and promised help through the Shane Warne Foundation.

Warne had a personal affection for the Galle Stadium because it was the venue where he captured his 500th Test wicket when Australia toured Sri Lanka in 2004.


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