My dear Sanga and the cricket team,
I thought I must write to you to wish you well at this moment when you carry the hopes of millions of people, as you try to repeat history and win the World Cup in the only sport which we as a country have reached the top internationally.
Sanga, until a few years ago cricket was the only reason why we Sri Lankans smiled, because the country was in the middle of a civil war and those who left home for work in the morning were not sure whether they would return in the evenings.
I am not saying that all is well now. The cost of living-which thankfully doesn’t affect you cricketers-is sky high. There are floods and other natural disasters. But still, we as a nation will follow your team’s every move from now on for the next several weeks and I am sure you realise that.
In a way Sanga, we have to be thankful to you and the organisers of the tournament for scheduling the World Cup now. If not for that, we would have had to go through yet another election listening to what everyone has to say about how good they are for the country and why we should elect them!
You should also be happy that you have been allowed to lead a team that has been chosen on merit. Fortunately for you, they didn’t rush through an amendment to the Constitution saying that Sanath can play in as many World Cups as he wants to!
I believe Aravinda had a relatively easy task dropping Sanath from the team-although poor Vaasy also got dropped as a result. Just imagine what would have happened if Sanath refused to leave and you had to first appoint a committee and then hold a special convention to get rid of him!
You should also be grateful that you have your good friend Mahela as your deputy. After all, he is not someone who undermines your leadership and goes around saying ‘the day when a Jayawardena era dawns for cricket in this country is not far off…!”
You need to be a bit careful though, Sanga. Just the other day our Police Chief announced that no drums, bands, banners or pointed objects which could be used as sharp weapons will be allowed into the grounds and if that is really enforced, I am not sure how you and your team will progress…
I cannot imagine what a cricket match in this country will be like without a ‘papara’ band but that is what our Police Chief wants. And if we are to take his word there really won’t be a match because even stumps will not be allowed into the grounds-they are pointed at one end, aren’t they?
I am sure the Police Chief has a good reason for banning these items now, when these were allowed into matches even at the height of terrorism, but I don’t think you should worry too much about these matters, Sanga.
That is because this is the same Police Chief who bans posters and cut-outs during elections, then allows them to be displayed and finally gets his men to tear them down. This is also the same chap who ignores orders from the Supreme Court, so who are we to complain, Sanga?
I am told you and your team have been given VIP security by those who guard Ministers and MPs, Sanga. Now, if I were you I wouldn’t trust them that much; after all, they can’t even protect an MP from being dragged on the ground and assaulted, so how can they protect you?
I also have a very practical hint for you, Sanga: try and avoid playing India at all costs unless you have to play them at the finals. I say so because if you play with them before that, some formula will be applied and you will probably be asked to lose the game!
Why, first there would be protests in Chennai. Then that fellow Manmohan Singh will say that India losing to Sri Lanka is ‘unacceptable’ and thereafter, you will get orders from the top to let the Indians off the hook. Now, if you doubt this Sanga, just ask the fishermen in Point Pedro…
I hope Sanga, all these issues will not distract you and your team from the task ahead. After a long time, this nation stands as one and wishes you success. And if you can emulate what Arjuna did in 1996, we might even see you in Parliament with grey hair and a pot belly in ten years’ time!
PS-Just a final word of advice, Sanga: I don’t think you should fear losing the contest either. If that does happen, I am almost certain they won’t charge you for treason for conspiring with our rivals against our country and throw you in jail on some frivolous charges. After all, you are not a General!
And, you can always blame the weather, saying the recent rains and floods prevented you and your team from training as much as you would have liked to. After all, what is good enough a reason for rising Bandakka prices should be good enough an excuse for you!