SJ’s ‘Devani Meheyuma’

Will Sanath Jayasuriya become the first MP to play cricket for Sri Lanka, that too in a Cricket World Cup? Here he is seen addressing a political rally last month in support of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. (Files)

"I don’t’ have a soft, soothing voice. My voice is rough. I don’t look handsome. I think I’m ugly. I’m not a tall chap but a very diminutive man. Therefore why shouldn’t I be happy about what I’ve achieved in this field?"

- Sunil Perera, local pop music icon and founder of the pop band ‘Gypsies’

Sanath Jayasuriya became ‘Sanath Jayasuriya’ through a lifelong journey across the unknown. A rollercoaster ride of a ‘simple man’ from Matara in the eyes of the most erudite, Jayauriya had to fashion his own destiny through sheer passion, grit and vigour. Luck, though, must have played a great role, as many would argue, in shaping his fascinating life story.

Now, one can imagine Sanath Jayasuriya, dressed in a national costume, walking into parliament next April. It was only last Tuesday (Feb. 16), that he confirmed that he will be contesting from Matara for the April 8 Parliamentary Elections. Critics believe he will win a parliamentary seat. Then will he instead wear western attire unlike his predecessor in politics, Arjuna Ranatunga? And there is yet another interesting thing to look forward to. Will he become the first MP to play cricket for Sri Lanka, that too in a Cricket World Cup? (One is coming up here in Asia soon.) As the political front predicts his definite entry into the legislature, cricket soothsayers say he will make a grand comeback into the Lankan team as well!

Daring dreams

Who had ever thought that this dark and chunky ‘pol adi’ hitter by the Matara beaches would one day become a trend-setter in the art of cricket batting in the world? Who had in his/her wildest dreams could have predicted in the mid 1980s – when only Colombo-based players held sway in local cricket — that this ordinary man from a far off southern town could become Sri Lanka’s most successful cricket captain? Who thought this bashful, inert and soft-spoken youngster would one day become a celebrity in the entire sub-continent.

His story, the ‘Sana’ saga, doesn’t stop there. Last year he became Sri Lanka’s longest serving international cricketer of the post-Test era. His continued stay in the cricket field later on was frowned upon by many a critic, and at the same time, loved probably by a majority of the ordinary folk, his long time fans.

It was noteworthy that Jayasuriya’s last four, five years in cricket fell parallel to an extremely prospective era for the Southerners in Sri Lanka, simply due to the emergence of the giant figure of Mahinda Rajapaksa. President Rajapaksa, who probably chronicles the grandest adventure of local politics of our times, is one who emerged from the deep South Medamulana to ‘invade’ prestigious Temple Trees, defying age old political traditions.

The affable ‘Sana’ has begun his ‘Deveni Meheyuma’ (Second Operation). Jayasuriya, by his entry into politics will probably turn a new leaf in life. Or else, he will give his support to his beloved state leader by collecting a mega number of votes for the President’s party from his electorate.

On the other hand, in this country where someone like Anarkali Akarsha polled in grand numbers to enter the Southern Provincial Council only recently, what’s the point in asking for any political background, useful knowledge and experience before taking to politics? In Asia (maybe even in the US), politics is a forum for tears, blood, bullets, worship and religion and both masters and the amateur stay alive with equal prospects; star and the flop, both…in Sri Lanka, how can it differ?

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