400 wick­ets taken

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS - My dear Ran­gana

I thought I must write to you to con­grat­u­late you, be­cause you have reached the magic num­ber of four hun­dred test wick­ets - far more than all other Sri Lankan ex­cept for the leg­endary Mu­rali. This came as a pleas­ant sur­prise, as did Sri Lanka snatch­ing vic­tory from the jaws of de­feat against Pak­istan.

Nowa­days, see­ing a Sri Lankan team win a cricket match is as rare as hold­ing a provin­cial coun­cil or lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tion, so I sup­pose when it does hap­pen we should all be very happy about this and we are in­deed. How­ever, I am a bit sad about it as well and I will try to ex­plain why.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Ran­gana aiya. That is not your fault. You have been a great ser­vant of Sri Lankan cricket for many years, de­spite miss­ing out on a lot of ac­tion be­cause at the start of your ca­reer, you were al­ways play­ing in Mu­rali’s shadow and rarely got a chance to per­form reg­u­larly.

You were also mod­est about your achieve­ments. As the years passed, we saw grey hairs, not a frizzy hairdo with golden streaks. You didn’t con­sider your­self a ‘su­per­star’ who, when asked for a com­ment says ‘wedak bal­aa­gena yanawa manus­sayo yanna’ - or ‘go away and mind your busi­ness’.

Un­like some of your col­leagues, you didn’t chase the riches doled out by IPL; nor did you go be­hind politi­cians to get in­ter­na­tional tours post­poned, so they could play in the IPL, like some ‘leg­ends’ did. In­stead, you aban­doned play­ing over­seas and re­turned when your coun­try sud­denly needed you.

I can­not re­mem­ber you be­ing in­vited to de­liver lec­tures to an au­di­ence of in­ter­na­tional crick­eters, but even if you were, I doubt you would have used that op­por­tu­nity to de­mean your own coun­try in front of the rest of the crick­et­ing com­mu­nity. What’s more, you don’t speak with a fake ‘posh’ ac­cent!

You did have the good for­tune of be­ing ap­pointed cap­tain for a few tests, but that was only be­cause some­one else was in­jured. Even then, de­spite win­ning a cou­ple of games un­der your lead­er­ship, you didn’t strut around mak­ing pro­found state­ments as some of our other skip­pers have done re­cently.

For all th­ese rea­sons, Ran­gana aiya, I am happy you reached that mile­stone last week. It was a well-de­served re­ward for some­one who does his work silently with­out the fan­fare or the tantrums that we see from some of your team mates. Still, there is a rea­son to be sad about it and I will tell you why.

For the last few years cricket in Sri Lanka has been on a down­hill trend. What be­gan as the oc­ca­sional lost game soon be­came the norm. Win­ning be­came the ex­cep­tion to the rule. When ques­tions were asked, the an­swer al­ways was that the team was in tran­si­tion af­ter the re­tire­ment of the ‘leg­ends’.

We heard of how the num­ber of clubs was in­creased to get more votes at Sri Lanka Cricket’s elec­tions. It was said that play­ers from some clubs got a free pass to the na­tional team, that team se­lec­tions were in­ter­fered with and that do­mes­tic matches were ‘fixed’ to ac­com­mo­date cer­tain teams.

We saw a pro­ces­sion of coaches take up the job and then leave it. Some re­signed in frus­tra­tion at the med­dling in their work; oth­ers who didn’t agree were fired. Now, a coach worth his salt would be as en­thu­si­as­tic about coach­ing Sri Lanka as much as the Bond Com­mis­sion would be to reap­point Ravi!

De­spite this, no one­ex­cept Cap­tain Cool - dared to say what was wrong with our cricket. He didn’t get far de­spite be­ing a World Cup win­ning cap­tain be­cause the Sri Lanka Cricket boss seems to have ev­ery­one - in­clud­ing Maithri, the Green Man, Ri­laasiri and even Mahinda maama - in his pocket.

With the re­cent de­feats at the hands of In­dia, Bangladesh and even Zim­babwe we hoped that, at last some­one would act be­cause, for the first time, there was pub­lic anger against our crick­eters. We hoped that the way Sri Lanka Cricket was be­ing run- and who was run­ning it- will fi­nally change.

Now though, with your match win­ning per­for­mance, there is ev­ery chance that the pow­ers that be will say that all’s well, that ends well and carry on re­gard­less. That is why, Ran­gana aiya, we are still sad, al­though we are very happy for you and what you have achieved for us. We hope you will un­der­stand. Yours truly, Punchi Putha PS: They tell us that they can’t get rid of the bosses of Sri Lanka Cricket be­cause of its Con­sti­tu­tion. At a time when the coun­try it­self is con­sid­er­ing a new Con­sti­tu­tion, we feel there is a bet­ter chance of that suc­ceed­ing than re­plac­ing Sri Lanka Cricket’s Con­sti­tu­tion and get­ting rid of you-know-who!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Sri Lanka

© PressReader. All rights reserved.