THE average Sri Lankan is partial to three things in life: his tipple, politics and cricket, not necessarily in that order. As far as their favourite national pastimes go, Sri Lankans have never had it so good. A bumper coconut harvest has assured them of an abundance of their favourite tipple, arrack. And the parliamentary election battle coincides with one of the willow, as Sri Lanka currently plays host to the visiting Pakistani cricket squad. But it appears that the antics of the politicos are by far the most entertaining as they engage in unrestrained, tub-thumping rhetoric. And as the campaign intensifies, the extravagance of the promises made from both major camps, the ruling United National Party and the People's Alliance, assumes a new shrillness. Fortified with a good tipple and the prospect of a good day's cricket viewing on the goggle box, Sri Lankan voters can afford to magnanimously take these promises with a pinch of salt. Cynics claim that it is not entirely a sociological accident that Broken Promise, the first Sinhalese film, was screened a year after the country's first general election. With only five days to go before the elections, political analysts are predicting a hung parliament, although both major parties appear confident of an outright victory. Nobody is talking about the hoary floating vote, either. Somehow, this split vote spectre always conjures up a disturbing picture of a solidified ice mass floating aimlessly and endeavouring to anchor itself to the camp that it finds most opportune. But this time even the floating vote, which analysts often fall back on to bolster the margin of error in their predictions, seems to have floated away or melted faster than the floating cubes in a glass of arrack. Both major parties are expected to largely retain their vote banks, although there have been some defections from politicians and their supporters. Some have even had the temerity as Winston Churchill once said ''to re-rat with ingenuity''. The contest has not been without its lighter side either. The slight amendments to some of the posters festooning city walls have afforded a great deal of amusement to passers-by.