Twenty20 is a format envisaged as a meeting point of the best popular attractions in the game - slam-bang cricket, loud music in the background and beauties in skimpy dresses to lead the cheering squad. The cheerleaders have proved to be huge crowd-pullers and have usually been found too hot to
handle in all the editions of the ICC World Twenty20, from the South African beauties in 2007 to the Caribbean bomb-shells in 2010.
Sri Lanka is a country where people know how to party. They can turn matches into one huge festival with non-stop music and dancing. Celebration and tourism is ingrained in their daily life.
So, it is really surprising that their cheergirls are producing the blandest of shows. Comparisons with the Indian Premier League are but natural and the glamour and glitz of that event is clearly missing. The attire is dull and the dance moves are conservative. The colour combination has been bizarre, from garish purple, green, orange to blue on the same podium. No wonder, even the TV cameras rarely pan in their direction.
May be it is the local culture where short dresses and skin show are shunned. Even without going western, the organisers could have still put up a graceful and entertaining act with girls performing local dance forms wearing traditional dresses. Some of the Indian franchisees, for instance, have been in tune with local sensibilities.
The man in charge of the cheer queens, Sudev Abeysekarara, himself is not too happy with the show. "The dance steps being performed are fine. But the thing is that in an event like this you need good looking girls, and to get the beautiful girls who are professional dancers, you have to pay more. The payment is not that great," he told HT.
Apparently, he also got the contract late and the dancers are short of practice, which explains the lack of coordination. "You need three-four months of practice, I have got 7-8 days to train the girls," he said.
Abeysekarara, an expert in Latin American dance forms who runs an academy here, has his hands full dealing with quality issues. The podiums on which the dancers are performing are not up to the mark. One of them broke during the opening day of Super Eights. On the poor choice of dresses, he explained: "The style and fashion is okay, but the quality of the dresses is poor. The girls are not comfortable, the tights they are wearing slip down while dancing and the girls are busy tying them here and there. Most of our dancers will not wear shorts for an event like this because they are conscious that parents are watching."
And why not do what the local queens are adept at and comfortable doing? "There are nice local dance forms in Kandian dancing, locountry and sabaragamu dancing. But I was told to do these steps, hip-hop with a bit of Latin American dance steps."
It looks like a case of missed opportunity to draw wider attention to Sri Lanka's rich culture.