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The Fifth Column

18th July 1999

Sana, beware of political googlies!

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My Dear Sana,

I thought I must write to congratulate you on your appointment, though I have already seen many doing the same thing through newspaper advertisements.

I know it must be tough on you, especially when you are following an emperor who reigned almost undisputed for ten years. It is even tougher because you are taking over at a time when our performances are of a very poor standard and everyone is asking 'Aney Mokada Une?'

Now, Sana I read in the newspapers what you had said that you expected the fullest co-operation from the two As but we all know that it is easier said than done. Somehow, knowing the senior A, it is difficult to imagine him taking orders from you - after all, he is so used to being the leader all these years.

Then, we are also told that Dav will re-join the team. Again, with the two As and Dav around it is difficult to imagine the team and the coach as one big happy family after all that has happened between them - unless of course, Dav is willing to forgive and forget quite a lot!

Now, Sana, some people seem to think that this is all a trick to get rid of the two As - asking them to go without saying so in so many words. As to whether there is any cricket left in them, we will have to find that out, won't we?

Then, I also saw that you had said you would ban cellular phones from practices. That is indeed a good idea. Maybe you will have to impose a few more rules like that to get the team back on the right track. I hope you will have the courage to do so.

But I also hope you will also be a bit different from your predecessor. Why, last week we heard that Yardley chaps telling us that some players were treated like servants by the 'aiyas' in the team. You had dodged that question when they asked you about it saying you wanted to start afresh, but that too tells us something, doesn't it?

Sana, we know that you chaps are famous only for a few years and that you have to make the most of it. But it would also be a good idea if you could think again about your touting all those red cows or Chaminda telling us the virtues of a particular cement. In that aspect at least, your predecessor set a good example that is worth following.

But most of all, Sana beware of your friends, especially those who belong to the politician category. Take, for example what Seeni Bola did to the Dark Horse. He backed him at first and managed to creep into the picture whenever Arjuna went to collect a trophy.

Then, when the going got tough for the Dark Horse after he decided to take on the uncle of you-know-who, Seeni Bola backed out so he could save his skin and there was Dark Horse, left high and dry to defend himself.

Now I dare say that all this went against your predecessor because he too was known to wager on the Dark Horse. So, Sana, the moral of the story is just play cricket; don't ever get involved in the politics of the Cricket Board which is at times dirtier than our national politics and that is saying quite a lot, isn't it?

You have our best wishes. You surely know that in this country, where we have little to smile about, cricket is almost a religion because it gives us something which we can be proud of. We hope you can live upto the expectations that you carry with your captaincy. And, by the way, teach that kid Mahela a thing or two.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha.

PS- Your predecessor was sometimes compared to JRJ for his absolute rule. And like JRJ, he came to the point where people were asking why he was not going. But as his successor, who would you emulate- RP, DBW or CBK? Neither of them, I hope for the sake of Sri Lankan cricket!

Rajpal Abeynayake's Column

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