The Sunday Leader

Divine Intervention In Sports

Commenting on the move to wrap a cricket ball with pirith nool and display it at the Sooriyawewa stadium on February 19, the veteran journalist Gamini Weerakoon in his column Serendipity in The Sunday Leader of January 16, observed that “It would make a mockery of religion and cricket a mumbo-jumbo.”

My mind promptly went beck to the last ICC World Cup. On the eve of the final, I watched on national TV a priest inside a church in Colombo with outstretched arms invoking divine intervention on our  cricketers to win the final which was to be played at the Kensington Oval, Barbados, on the following day, April 28, 2007.

The day dawned and after the toss, Australia decided to bat first. Chaminda Vaas opened the bowling for Sri Lanka. In characteristic fashion, Vaas crossed himself, ran upto the wicket and bowled. Lo and behold, Gilchrist the ever reliable opener belted the first ball to the boundary, and from then on it was an unstoppable flow of fours and sixes. In 103 balls Gilchrist had piled up 149 runs and sealed victory for his country.

It was a brave innings and an interesting one too for all the lovers of the game. But, most of us who watched TV were just bewildered. The efficacy of pre-match prayers, sorcery, pirith nool and crashing coconuts was nowhere to be seen.

How did Gilchrist defy the supernatural? Only with squash ball on the inside of the glove; was the squash ball under a spell or charm? To date, nobody knows and Gilchrist just wouldn’t speak on it.

I am a Catholic and I have no grouse with Vaas for crossing himself before he starts to bowl. He may be perhaps doing so by mere habit. But priests formally invoking God’s intervention to win matches is ludicrous and is quite akin to selling papal indulgences to build St. Peters in the early 1600 AD.

Protagoras, the Greek thinker in 415 BC, teaching morality and truth, declared that man was the measure of all things and added that it was humans, not gods who should decide what was good and bad. His thoughts have reverberated down the ages and today we see good umpires and technology (TV) in cricket combine to decide the winners leaving no space for the ‘supernatural to manipulate.’

D. Joseph

2 Comments for “Divine Intervention In Sports”

  1. darsh

    I am really happy and astonished to read this as it came from a catholic.
    Yes….. You must never ever bring religion in to any sport. Thats the only thing I dont like about Pakistanis cricketers. you know why…
    If you win then Thank God… If you loose its somthing else. I wish there are no religionsat all in this whole world .

  2. Mre Sembakuttiarachchi

    Wow! Thanks Joseph and darsh for being brave to write something like this. Well, let us hide and watch this time if the pirith noola is going to help.

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