Eulogy for Dinesh Chandimal


On 10 July 2011 I wrote to The Island to salute Angelo Mathews for the brilliant strategic prescience and incredible generosity of spirit with which he egged on young Dinesh Chandimal to the heights of greatness during his maiden appearance at the Lord’s cricket ground in London. In the event, Chandimal achieved every batsman’s dearest dream and crowning glory, namely, a century at Lord’s in his maiden appearance. When he cruised to his century in a blaze of glory, Angelo jumped to high heaven with delight as though it was his own achievement. It was a manifestation of altruistic joy induced by maithree or love.

Angelo & Chandimal

I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting either Angelo or Chandimal but from their public persona they are both immediately and immensely likable young men. Their manifest behaviour in relation to others in the cricket field indicates that they are also very lovable individuals and capable of receiving and giving love in return. If proof were needed of Chandimal’s capacity to dedicate himself to a cause greater than himself, it was evident in the magnanimous way he endorsed Lasith Malinga’s captaincy of our team in the last two T-20 matches. In the event, all parties triumphed—Lasith, Chandimal, the team, the country and we the people. In the fitness of things, Chandimal the current captain of our T-20 team carried the trophy when the heroes returned home.


What induced Dinesh Chandimal to behave so magnanimously and generously? Let me offer a hypothesis for your critical consideration. English poet H.W. Auden wrote: "Those to whom evil is done/ Do evil in return." Given the fundamentally co-operative social behaviour manifest in human tribes, I think it is even truer to say that : " Those to whom good is done / Do good in return." Chandimal achieved greatness at Lords` owing to the magnanimity and generosity he received from a member of his team in 2011. Admittedly at some risk to the welfare of his team and his motherland, Angelo Mathews almost drove Chandimal to greatness. In that situation Angelo with supreme confidence in the reliability of his judgment risked the country’s good for Chandimal’s glory. If pressed Angelo with the benefit of hindsight would no doubt say that he was sure that there was no risk to the country at all. (The question is whether he had the right to be sure. Fortunately, Angelo is a marvelous all-round cricketer and not a philosopher grappling with epistemological problems. So he did what turned out to be best and right for all concerned. Great leaders are like that!) But to return to my hypothesis: Chandimal knew that at least on one occasion his personal glory received priority over the country’s welfare. On this occasion therefore Chandimal must have felt something like a moral imperative to put the country’s welfare above his own and he did so. In the event we all triumphed.


The nobility and generosity of Chandimal’s behaviour were both exemplary and infectious. I have always believed that our cricket team in which meritocracy reigns, should be our model for building our nation. Race, language, religion, class and caste are irrelevant in cricket. Only merit counts. The country knows it. So when our cricket team triumphed, merit triumphed and the whole country spontaneously rejoiced.


On the day after our T-20 victory, I attended a seminar on National Unity organized by my friend and comrade Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara. It was graced by the presence of H.E. the President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In his speech President Rajapaksa noted with great satisfaction the manifestation of national unity spontaneously evoked by our victory across the whole country. In a very inspiring speech the President greatly appreciated the contribution made by our cricket team to national unity. Exemplifying behaviour calculated to promote national unity himself, he spoke in Tamil also, fluently and at length. He must have communicated effectively with the large number of Tamil compatriots in the main hall of the BMICH because his speech evoked spontaneous applause from them from time to time. Speaking in parliament on the same subject, Minister DEW Gunesekera freely conceded that our cricket team had done more than politicians to promote national unity in our country. His was a generous and well deserved tribute. He said that our cricketers showed the way the country could and should go towards national greatness. Young Dinesh Chandimal provided a splendid example of how one can devote oneself to a cause greater than oneself. Bravo, Chandimal!

Carlo Fonseka

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