ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 49
Columns - 5th Column

Well done you played the game against all odds

By Rypvanwinkle

My Dear Mahela and the Team,

I thought I must write to you because the entire country was looking forward to your performances over the past few weeks and you didn’t disappoint them-even though you couldn’t quite become world champions.

It is true that the brand of cricket that your team played was very exciting-especially when that chap Malinga hurtles in with his unorthodox hair do and even more unorthodox delivery style and takes four wickets in four balls-but that is not what I wanted to write to you about.

What was evident to all of us watching your team perform was the commitment and dedication all of you displayed for a single cause-that of playing for the honour of your country. It was so refreshing to see a group of dedicated young men take on the giants of the game without fear and emerge winners in almost all but one of the contests.

What was so special about that was the fact that our country has been going through dark and difficult times in the recent past. There have been many divisions amongst us which have only helped our enemies prosper.

Our image, in the eyes of the rest of world, had taken a severe beating. Sri Lanka was mentioned in international headlines only with regard to bombings and killings and was looked at as yet another failed state. And then, your team came along and showed the world what little Sri Lanka is capable of.

Significantly, your team comprised Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims and there were Buddhists, Christians and Hindus among them. If anything, they showed the rest of the country what we are capable of, if only we are united and are prepared to stand as one.

It is indeed ironical that while you were playing Australia in the finals amidst the rain, doom and gloom, Colombo was plunged into darkness because the Tigers chose that moment to try and attack targets in the South using their latest weapon-light aircraft. As a result, those in the capital couldn’t watch their heroes in action!

While it deprived city folk of watching your final battle, it also illustrated the nature of the enemy we face: They are ready to strike even if it is our finest hour, if they feel that it would serve their purpose and gain them some mileage.

Nevertheless, the way you played that game, in fading light and against all odds would have warmed the hearts of many. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that we all felt proud to be Sri Lankan once more and it is for that, that we should be indebted to your team.

I believe we as a nation are grateful to your team for that and you yourself would have seen some of that gratitude last Thursday when you arrived in the country as people lined the streets in the pouring rain, not minding the drenching they were getting if only they could catch a glimpse of their heroes and say thank you.

If only, Mahela, we as a country can learn a lesson and be inspired by the unity and leadership displayed by you and your team, we would be better off as a nation. Then, your efforts would not have been in vain-even if you didn’t bring home the World Cup.
Yours truly,
Punchi Putha

PS-Cricket, it seems, is the only profession where the public is demanding that you don’t retire because people are now worried that players like Sanath and Marvan would quit the game and they don’t want them to do that. In politics, on the other hand, people want their losing captains to retire but they don’t oblige, be they green or blue. That is a measure of your success and is probably the best tribute that you have earned, isn’t it?

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.