The "sporting heroes" of this our commonwealth

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the former glory of our cricket is daily crucified, my heart sinks like the Titanic to the bottom of the Atlantic. So much hope, such little joy. In the end. More often than not.

Truth be told, I'm as fed up as a hapless demigod who finds, time and again, that the burnt offerings dished up by my devotees (although, in real life, I am the worshipper; and cricket is my deity, together with scores of other ardent enthusiasts) are below par.

But wiser heads than mine affirm that saner counsel must prevail. There must be no mourning of the bar when Sri Lanka Cricket puts out to sea, and twilight tolls the knell of parting day. We must take the long-term view, I am told in sonorous tones.

By Stentors who, until a few moments before our defeat seemed inevitable, were unceremoniously urging "the lads" to take their finger out and get down to brass tacks. (In the interests of the three fair ladies who read my column, I paraphrase the parliamentary language employed by these noble stevedores to make their strongly worded sentiments known to all and sundry throughout cricket-loving neighbourhoods.)

Focus, if you will, dear sports fan, on the precept that we must take the long-term view. Although it is hardly a republican virtue today, beginning with the end in mind was the watchword of hardier races than those who strut the planet today. The Norse sagas were terrifically hot on it, the Romans bore it out with Stoic fortitude, and the Greeks had more than a word for it.

It is on the Icelandic epics I wish to dwell before we move on to southern climes for our application of the principle in question. For it is the Eddas of the Vikings and Norsemen of old whose myths and legends embody and espouse the valiant quality I have in mind for our expedient adoption. (Do pay attention, dears, that dog or wife or lunch or laundry can wait a minute till you digest these facts.)
The gods of Asgard were a jolly bunch in general.

They busied themselves slaughtering Frost Giants and cavorting with Valkyries. Or is it vice versa? I sometimes get my Nibelungen in a twist. Never mind! My point is that nothing diverted the attention of the Aesir (as the Asgardians were known) from the merrymaking of the moment. Except, of course, the shadow that hung over the Golden Realm. That one day, despite all their vim, vigour, and vitality, the dream would die - and it would all end in tears.

Now one of the reasons why Thor and Balder and Heimdall are among my favourite heroes is that they soldiered bravely on, despite the threat of Ragnarok - the day of doom at the end of the world when all the Aesir would fall in the last battle. No prophecy of ill-fortune across the Rainbow Bridge could pre-empt their present happiness. They were, if you take the long-term view (you really must, dears), living in a fool's paradise.

Which brings me neatly to the sporting heroes of our commonwealth. Not the flannelled fools who flail the willow and atrophy as we watch, but the demigods who reached for the Golden Apple and discovered that there was a worm in the bid (I mean, bud). That happy band of pilgrims who hot-footed it in an embarrassingly large delegation to essay an attempt at winning the opportunity to host the games in 2018… and found that victory was contingent not on pomp and pageantry, but being able to demonstrate now that we would have what it takes then… when the Games would begin.

One could go on about the ill-advisability of the luxurious venture when the national budget won't stretch to cover necessities. Or the fact that medium-term development goals, in the ostensible national interest, don't make much economic sense when, in the short run, many of the country's citizens are dead. And a truism which suggests there is no greater heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. (For didn't the delegation's co-chief, who wore two hats and danced the jig, fail to adequately separate his fiscal- and monetary-policy-making roles?)

But we won't, dears, in the interests of time and space. One can, however, scarce constrain oneself to point out that despite the propaganda of Loki and other mischief-makers, the popular sentiment is not so much that of disappointment at losing the bid as that of relief at being able now to dispense with the heavy burden we would all have carried until Gotterdammerung.

The hype and hoopla continues, however. Don't roll up those plans just yet, because the acid test for the demigods of Asgard will be how the Hambantota Agenda will be adapted by the divinity that shapes our ends. One suspects that the braves will weather it out, having begun with the end in mind. For not all scenarios end with the twilight of the gods. It is rumoured that one greater than Odin will come. Into that reality, may our Golden Realm awake.

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