The Sunday Leader

How The Match Was Lost

Double-Double (DD) our favourite waiter at the Water Hole was visibly agitated on Monday afternoon as he poured out the chilled waters of N’Eliya into a well-chilled mug.
Eeyeh (yesterday), Ali keliyak (elephant confrontation) Ne? In Vain, he muttered.
Was it the assault on the JSC Secretary down Mt. Lavinia way, GMOA on strike or Ranil and Sajith at each other’s jugulars? We queried.
No it was at Premadasa. The World Cup, which was ours just, disappeared from sight. The match was in the ‘sakkuwa’ (pocket). Pick pocket gahuwa, DD said ruefully.
What to do? In cricket you win, lose or draw the game, we philosophized going from what we learnt at school long years ago.
But DD, the young militant was not of the same spirit. We play to win – (Gahanne Dinnana), he said and blurted: Latest reports say that one young man hanged himself from a rafter after the defeat. A girl was so much depressed she took some poison and committed suicide. Coast Guards at Mirissa and villagers came to blows and the police had to be called in.
Then came the punch line: Meke anntharjatika kumanthranayak. This is an international conspiracy against our government just like what happened down Mt. Lavinia way.
We didn’t want to disagree and be considered a traitor by this son from Down South and terminated the conversation.
A prophet is not recognised in his own country, we reflected rather ruefully. It was only last week that we wrote in this column about the dangers of our politicians playing cricket with the Veddhas in an effort to civilize them. Will politicians civilize the Veddhas or the Veddhas civilize politicians, we queried. Whether the Veddhas civilised the politicos or not they do seem to have influenced because the Law of the Jungle seems to be replacing our age old legal system in the ‘civilized’ part of our isle like what happened to the JSC Secretary’.
Did the Veddha-Politika encounter have anything to do with Marlon Samuels hitting the ball into outer space at the Premadasa and winning the match? We wondered.
It does appear that we have to learn playing cricket the Veddha way not the MCC style such as the elegant cover drives, late cuts and on- drives of Sangakkara or Jayawardena. Those Sri Lankan gentlemen who hung up their gloves long years ago will say that if they had attempted to bat like Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, their purist cricket coaches would have asked them to quit playing the game immediately. This is ‘crickit’ not ‘pol adi’, they would have been told.
So why not get down a leader from the Uruwarrige tribe in Bintenne to play the game.
And now Sri Lanka cricket – like most things in recent times- is on the ascendant. Not to be outdone by our friendly neighbours, the Indians and Pakistanis, allegations have been made that some Sri Lankan umpires had agreed to play foul with international bookmakers. Whether the allegations are true or false it all goes to prove that we Sri Lankans have developed the reputation of having the potential to do many things.

Where is Captain Cool?

There were many faces flashed across the TV screen while the Sri Lankan debacle was taking place – a few of the cricketers, some of money bags and those of many Johnnies- come- lately. Aravinda de Silva was there in his own right but where oh where was Captain Cool, the man who led Lanka to the greatest of victories at the World Cup and against the Mighty Aussies at that? Surely he was greater than all the non-entities put together who had entered the VIP enclosures of Premadasa?
Arjuna Ranatunga has always been a controversial personality who did not hesitate to take on even Darrel Hair at the MCG before a packed crowd and got away with it. He is now on the other side of the political fence but what has that to do with cricket? The answer is that cricket too had been politicised. Indeed today cricket is politics and politics is cricket, if we view the panels and boards controlling the game who are basking in the reflected glories won by cricketers.
We stand to be corrected but on TV we did not see the T-20 World Cup being presented to Darren Sammy whose team won it in a glorious way. If politicians were fighting shy to make the presentation, surely a distinguished cricketer like Arjuna Ranatunga could have done the honours?

Barbaric diplomacy

We are not of a sentimental nature but each time – almost daily – when we read the death of a lovable jumbo, it causes us immense grief. The plight of elephants today is the result of Man’s bestiality to these gentle giants. Not even the death of a human causes us as much sorrow because these innocents are victims of man-made bestial projects.
The expansion of ‘development’ projects into the traditional homelands is the basic cause of this elephantine tragedy. With expansion of ‘colonies’ and villages to accommodate the expanding human population, the elephants appear to be doomed. Yet we should attempt to save them at least in our lifetime by an overall scheme for wild life reservations.
That unfortunately does not seem to go with our Buddhistic thinking of the present day because the latest reports say that two large areas of the Yala National Park are to be sold to two private entrepreneurs. This is indeed a callous attitude to be taken by a people who keep chanting ever so often: May all beings be well and happy.
We wonder why our Buddhist activists have not taken up the issue of imprisoning thousands of wild animals in ‘zoological gardens’. They are not gardens but a complex of concrete pits and iron cages where the poor animals who should be roaming freely in their habitats are kept as prisoners for the amusement of children as well as adults. If seeing animals in captivity is a delight of humanity they should at least be taken to wild life reserves where the public should be able to view them at a distance.
The use of elephants in the service of man and even gods is bad even though it has gone on for time immemorial. We wonder whether scientists have measured the heat that caparisoned elephants with hundreds of electric bulbs lit on them have to endure. No wonder they go berserk at times.
The cruelest act that is done to jumbos in modern times is their use as instruments of international diplomacy. Politicians in power – of all political parties – consider animals that should be roaming the jungles their private property. Not only are they captured or stolen to enhance the status of the Walauwas but now they are airlifted to distant lands as gifts to enhance the friendship between nations and standing of national leaders.
Recently two baby jumbos were airlifted to the Czech Republic for them to suffer in a zoological garden presumably for the amusement of Czech children. What crime have these animals committed to suffer the fate of being imprisoned in a foreign land and kept in freezing temperate climates? The advocates of international diplomacy presume they are doing good by Sri Lanka! This is another example of the harm that good men do.
Many animals of Sri Lankan origin have been presented by our national leaders to win friends and influence people in foreign lands. But are our diplomats being asked to look after the welfare and progress these animals are making. It is time to halt this barbaric diplomatic practice and at least ensure that these unfortunate ‘gifted’ animals are being cared for.

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