Columns - 5th column

Living another life, in the garb of a politico

By Rypvanwinkle

My Dear Sanath,

I thought I must write to you after I saw you on television handing over nominations for the forthcoming elections from your hometown in Matara. Although I confess I was not surprised, I must say I was disappointed.

Of course, being disappointed with you is nothing new, because you have been disappointing us for quite some time now both with the bat and the ball, in the cricket matches you have been playing for the country. But then, you have continued to play, even at the ripe old age of forty and that is what is even more disappointing!

For a while, we did think it was the fault of the selectors but then, when they summoned the courage to drop you, we remember how you ran to Mahinda maama and how he ordered that you be re-instated in the team. I suppose being from the other side of the Bentara Ganga does have its advantages!

Come to think of it Sanath, that 1996 World Cup winning team is quite a political team, isn’t it? Why, we have Captain Cool who is already a parliamentarian-though it is doubtful whether he will remain so after the elections. Now we have you joining the ranks, most probably as an MP for Matara.

Then, if memory serves me right, we had Pramodya as an organizer for the Greens in Kamburupitiya before he was afflicted with that familiar disease that Greens now frequently contract; he too switched allegiance and said he was supporting Mahinda maama.

Then of course, there is Hashan who is in the news these days but for the wrong reasons. We must wait and see what happens to him; but as far as that 1996 World Cup winning team is concerned all that is left to be done is to make Muralitharan (Muttiah, not Vinayagamoorthy of course) the Chief Minister of the Northern Province.

But Sanath, the reason why I thought I should write to you is to ask you about this whole issue of cricketers, the ‘other’ SJ (Susanthika, of course), and the likes of Malani and Geetha and other artistes being nominated for the election.We know you all had to sing for your supper and tell us that we should elect a ‘palapurudu, sanvedi naayakaya’ at the last election in a million television advertisements and I suppose this is the way that the ‘palapurudu, sanvedi naayakaya’ is rewarding you. So I was just wondering whether it would be best for our country to pack our Parliament with cricketers, athletes and movie stars.

Of course you might argue it would still be better than packing it with drug dealers, criminals and hoodlums and there is some truth in that. But even then, I do really have my doubts as to whether celebrities are the best bet to become good Parliamentarians.

If you consider the argument that being a brilliant cricketer would automatically make you a good MP, why don’t you consider the reverse, Sanath? For instance, take a clever legislator like the late Lalith Athulathmudali or the late Lakshman Kadirgamar (I had to think of two departed gentlemen because I couldn’t recall a really clever MP in our last Parliament!).

If you use the same argument, we should be able to play either Athulathmudali or Kadirgamar in the national cricket team, just because they are brilliant politicians. Now, if that sounds absurd to you, it sounds equally absurd to me that you for instance, brilliant cricketer though you are, will make a good Parliamentarian.

And, if you look for parallels you will realize that Imran Khan in Pakistan and our own Captain Cool didn’t make much headway as politicians; nor did two of our brilliant actors, Gamini and Vijaya. So, honestly Sanath, I fear for your reputation and your future as a politician.

We would have liked to remember you as the brilliant cricketer whose daring deeds won for us the Cricket World Cup in 1996. But in taking the plunge into politics, you have left us with no choice but to see you as a politician. All I can say is that we wish you the best of luck-you are going to need a lot of it, much more than you ever did in the cricket field!

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha

PS-Remember Sanath, in this game there are no instant replays or third umpires; if you are given out, out you go. And if you still think that taking to politics when you are about to retire at the top of your profession is a good idea, there is a gentleman you need to talk to-you may be able to reach him through his lawyers at Navy Headquarters!

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