Columns - 5th column

Front foot batsman, backdoor statesman

By Rypvanwinkle

My Dear Sanath,

I thought I must write to you when I heard that you had written to Mahinda maama asking that you be appointed a minister. I heard that three others had also signed the same letter and ‘Muthu’ of Galle was among them.

I am told that you were making this request on the basis that both you and Muthu topped the preference votes in your respective districts of Matara and Galle and that everyone else who topped their districts from the ruling party has already been made ministers.

As a cricketer, Sanath, we all know that you broke many records and established many ‘firsts’ for a Sri Lankan. So I guess we can now add another one of them to your credit: the first parliamentarian to write to a President saying, “Why don’t you appoint me a minister?”

Even then, Sanath, this is an absolutely brilliant idea. At last count, our country had sixty-one ministers and thirty-one deputy ministers. So, who would notice if Mahinda maama sneaked in just four more? Or better still, he could appoint eight and we could have a hundred ministers!

And who would object, when we are being told that the country is developing by leaps and bounds because of these ninety-two ministers. Just imagine how much more it would develop if we had ninety-six minister instead of a mere ninety-two!

Now, that brings me to another interesting question that I must ask you. If you wanted to be appointed a minister, what portfolio would you want? As for me, I would suggest that you be appointed minister in charge of cricket selections.

Remember, Sanath, the tricks you had to resort to, just to get back in to the national team after you were dropped? And remember how you went crying to Mahinda maama asking him to include you in the team and he put you on a plane and sent you to England for a farewell game?

Now, if you are the ‘Minister of Cricket Selections’, you would have no such problems. All you would have to do is to add your name to the list when it comes before you for approval and no one would dare to say anything!

I, for one, don’t think that you are too old to still be in the game at the highest level: you are only forty-two years old. I am told the oldest test cricketer, Wilfred Rhodes was fifty-two when he last played for England so you may well have ten more years of cricket left in you!

And did you know, Sanath, that ‘DS’, (no, not the Father of the Nation but the Father of the Cricket Board until a few months ago) first played for Sri Lanka when he was thirty-nine and retired well past his forty-second birthday.

We also know that you feel very strongly about who should be selected to play cricket for Sri Lanka and who should not be which is why you are already interfering with the selections by having a set of ‘puppet’ selectors. It would be much easier to do it all officially, wouldn’t it?

Then, think about all those ‘senior’ players in the team who didn’t want you playing during the last couple of years when you were selected only because of your political influence. If you are the Minister for Cricket Selections, you could teach them a lesson or two, couldn’t you?

Don’t tell me that ‘Minister for Cricket Selections’ is a silly title for a minister to have because we already have ministers for ‘Good Governance and Infrastructure Facilities’ and also a minister for ‘National Languages and Social Integration’, whatever those titles mean.

The only reason why Mahinda maama wouldn’t appoint you the Minister of Cricket Selections is if he realises that once you are in his ‘team’ it will be really difficult to get rid of you. I am not sure whether that will make him think twice, Sanath, before appointing you as a minister.

Sanath, we knew you as crafty cricketer who used your brain as well your brawn on the cricket field and now you have demonstrated that in politics as well. After all, your request to appoint all those who topped their districts on the preference vote has a hidden secret, doesn’t it?

Now, apart from the four of you who wrote that letter to Mahinda maama, all those who have topped their districts on the preference vote have been appointed ministers with the exception of just one parliamentarian, and you have been careful not to include him in your letter.

That exception is the gentleman who topped the preference vote from Hambantota, polling nearly twice as many votes as his uncle, Namal Kumaraya himself. So, if Mahinda maama obliges you, he gets a chance to appoint Namal Kumaraya as a minister at the same time!

For devising that strategy, Sanath, I must congratulate you. You have already done your bit for the country on the cricket field, but it looks like as a politician, you are as good (or bad, depending on how you look at it) as they come. So, all the best with your ministerial plans!

I must however warn you, Sanath, that people still prefer Sanath the cricketer to Sanath the politician and it will be a pity that most people who loved Sanath the cricketer may not have the same sentiments when Sanath the amathithuma plays his final innings!

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha
PS-Now that your Mumbai Indians team mate Sachin Tendulkar has been made a MP in the Rajya Sabha in India, can we rely on you two to settle disputes between the two countries in the Mumbai Indians dressing room? But make sure, Sanath, that you don’t sell your country’s interests for a few dollars more as you usually do!

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