My dear Sri Lankan cricket fans, It is with great regret that we inform you that Sri Lankan Cricket died on Thursday night. The last rites are expected to be performed tonight in Colombo, at the venue which was the scene of some of its greatest triumphs. However, there are still some who are hoping [...]

5th Column

No more a waiting game


My dear Sri Lankan cricket fans,
It is with great regret that we inform you that Sri Lankan Cricket died on Thursday night. The last rites are expected to be performed tonight in Colombo, at the venue which was the scene of some of its greatest triumphs. However, there are still some who are hoping for a miraculous resurrection.

As you are very well aware, Sri Lanka Cricket had been ailing for some time. Many people were called in to treat this ailment, but they all left after awhile. Some of them were shown the door but many of them left after they found it hard to deal with Sri Lanka Cricket’s current guardians.

There are many theories regarding the cause of Sri Lankan Cricket’s death. These range from negligence and neglect to ill-treatment. Some are even suggesting that Sri Lankan Cricket was slowly poisoned and murdered for profit. A proper post-mortem needs to be conducted to confirm this.
Sri Lankan Cricket has a respected ancestry, hailing from the British and going back two hundred years. However, for most of this time, it was treated as a poor relative by its overseas cousins. They only stopped by to visit Sri Lankan Cricket in their journeys between England and Australia.

Tired with this second-class treatment, Sri Lankan Cricket fought hard to earn its due place among the cricketing fraternity in the world. It succeeded thirty five years ago. That was mostly due to how it conducted itself and because of a chap called Gamini who was also responsible for the Mahaweli.

Thereafter, Sri Lankan Cricket went from strength to strength. Previously known for its smiling and slightly shy outlook, it was able to stand on its own feet against some of its older rivals. Sri Lankan cricket then began defeating them. As time went on, their victories became more and more frequent.

The crowning glory for Sri Lankan Cricket came one memorable night in Lahore twenty one years ago, when Captain Cool and a band of determined young men who were stars in the making – but not superstars just yet – lifted that trophy which meant that Sri Lankan Cricket was the best in the world.

Finally, Sri Lankan Cricket had come of age and lived up to its expectations. For many Sri Lankans the World Cup meant more than the world to them because that was the time when the country was wracked by the war and cricket brought the entire nation together, whatever else divided them.

Overnight, Sri Lankan Cricket became very rich and the players became multi-millionaires. Money flowed into the game on a scale that could not have even been imagined before. Selling television rights for games that Sri Lankan Cricket was involved in became a game of its own.

Looking back, I am not sure whether these changes were the best thing that happened to Sri Lankan Cricket. People interested in making money- the ‘Palas’ and the ‘Dasas’- pushed and shoved their way into cricket administration, elbowing out gentlemen who were genuinely interested in the game.

The years went by and Sri Lankan Cricket appeared to be healthy. What we didn’t know was that the cancer had already begun to spread. We didn’t see that because Sri Lankan Cricket was held together by the performances of the Muralis, Mahelas, Malingas, Sanaths, Dilshans, Ranganas and the Kumars.

Even some of the stars were affected by the malady. Some of them sought intervention by politicians to stay in the team. Other so-called ‘legends’ wanted tours rescheduled so they could play in the IPL. More clubs were classed as ‘first class’ because they brought votes for the Pala. The rot had begun.

Soon there was speculation that the players were interested only in money and that their agents ran the show. The so-called legends, while they performed brilliantly, apparently didn’t like young blood being introduced while they were still there. So, when they left, they left a gaping hole in the team.

In recent months, there were signs that Sri Lankan Cricket was seriously ill. In its own backyard, it lost to Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. The way in which the Indian tour is being played out suggests that India should have perhaps given Kohli and the boys a rest and sent their women’s team instead.

As Sri Lankan Cricket lay dying, the chap who was supposed to be in charge of it all blamed it on the players, saying they were pot-bellied. A player compared him to a ‘rilawa’ (monkey) insulting a ‘girawa’ (parrot). This week, the rilawa approved the girawa’s appointment as the team’s captain!

One by one, people who want to support Sri Lankan Cricket in its hour of need are leaving, unable to tolerate the interference of the Pala. The coach has left. The captain has resigned. The last three one-day games have seen three different captains. This week, Sanath and his selectors also quit.

There is one man though, who does not quit. Sports Ministers have come and gone, Prime Ministers have come and gone and even Presidents have come and gone, but Pala is still there because he is in the good books of the Greens and the Blues – and among the Blues, both Mahinda maama and Maithri.

Sri Lankan Cricket died on Thursday when it lost the chance to automatically qualify for the World Cup. It may now have to play in a qualifying tournament. In thirty five years, Sri Lankan Cricket brought joy and hope to a troubled nation. Now it is no more. May it be allowed to rest in peace.

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha
PS: The ‘rilawa’ should have used the Royal motto ‘Disce Aut Discede’ or ‘Learn or Depart’ on the Pala but we all know he struggles with that. So, the Pala has resorted to the Thomian motto, ‘Esto Perpetua’ or ‘Be Thou Forever’. As a result, Sri Lankan Cricket is following the Trinitian motto, ‘Respice Finem’ or ‘Look to the End’!

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