Colombo, Feb 12: While the media of every country usually backs its team, a Sri Lankan newspaper columnist has urged the national squad not to win the World Cup -- for the greater good of the nation.
"Call me a traitor, a quisling... anything. I don't want Sri Lanka to be the champions of cricket World Cup 2011," the sports writer of the privately run The Island daily said.
"Want to hang me, come catch me," Russell Palipane wrote Saturday.
"Just imagine what will take place if Sri Lanka emerges champs. D. S. de Silva (President of Sri Lanka Cricket) and his cronies will say it was because of their organisation skills."
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) was recently described as "one of the most corrupt organisations in the country" by former sports minister C. B. Ratnayake. SLC is also the country's richest sports governing body.
The Island newspaper, which usually supports the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse, also raised fears that ruling-party politicians will exploit a cup victory to bolster their own image.
The scathing report comes despite a government appeal to the local media not to hurt the morale of the national squad ahead of the World Cup, of which Sri Lanka is a host, along with India and Bangladesh.
The columnist goes on to beg Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara not to win the tournament, which runs from February 19 to April 2.
"Kumar dear, please spare the country. Don't win it for the majority of this country are nothing but a pack of jokers, like the former chairman of selectors (Asantha de Mel), about whom (former skipper) Marvan Atapattu had a few things to say, before he retired," the paper said.
Atapattu retired in 2008 after serious differences with the cricket administration.
Sri Lanka, who won the World Cup in 1996 and finished runners-up to Australia in the last event in 2007, are currently placed third in the ICC one-day rankings and among the favourites to win the title this time.
They open their campaign against cricket minnows Canada at Hambantota on February 20. AFP