Monkey talk on the cricket field


It may be the Sports Minister is angry because he was not compared to a monkey, but a macaque – to a ‘rilava’ and not a ‘vandura’? Then monkey is the bigger in this species of primates, and politicians would always like to be associated with anything big.

What is the problem he has with fat cricketers? It is part of his macaque or "rilav" thinking about the game of cricket. If he gets his ministry staff or those at Sri Lanka Cricket, who are so eager to please him, to do some research on the matter he may get to know about W. G. Grace – who was a doctor and an English cricketer, considered one of the greatest ever players. He was a fat man and very good player, too. As says it, he "was a rare talent, to say the least. He could bat phenomenally well, bowl with some skill, and pull off stunning feats as a fielder too …. Midway through his cricket career, the gut began to expand and it reached to a point that seemed impossible. Still, he was the greatest cricketer the world had seen until that point, so it didn’t really matter if he was thick or thin, they did just come to watch him play".

It may interest the Minister to know that the same site places Sri Lanka’s Arjuna Ranatunga – his Cabinet colleague today, at the top of its "List of overweight cricketers". This is what it says: "Inevitably, when a conversation veers in the direction of big men who have played cricket and done well, Arjuna Ranatunga’s name is the first to come to mind. The man was big around the waist, but he was adept at handling pace and spin and did a decent job with the ball too. But he couldn’t, or didn’t, run, between the wickets or on the field, even if his life depended on it." Does the Minister know that this overweight cricketer brought Sri Lanka the World Cup in Cricket under his captaincy? Maybe the Minister needs a little more "rilav" education on sports and cricket – will Sri Lanka Cricket look into this?

If he wants to know a little more about fat or overweight cricketers who have earned fame in the game – just as Lasith Malinga has done – let him know about Dwayne Leverock of the West Indies, Mark Cosgrove and Shane Warne of Australia, and Colin Milburn of England – just to name a few.

But the problem with the Sports Minister’s clearly unfair bowling, well beyond the crease, directed at Lasith Malinga, seems to be more of a lack of knowledge about language than about being associated with a ‘rilava" or macaque. Surely he must know even now that Malinga did not call him a "rilava", but compared his actions to that of a "rilava" – does he not know anything about comparison and metaphor in language? The Sinhala language is full of such metaphors.

If I tell the Minister "booruva vagey veda karanna epa" - do not work like a donkey - it surely does not mean he is a donkey, but he may be behaving like that. When anyone refers to "val booru veda karanava" - it does not refer to donkeys at work, but to people doing foolish and asinine things. They are not asses, but much more of such behavior would certainly make them be labeled as asses or donkeys. One hopes the Minister and the people at SLC, who are ready to be asinine on his behalf, have this in mind.

Our recent record in cricket shows that much is needed to bring us back to the match winning and good competitive cricket of the past. Such improvement certainly has nothing to do with ‘rilav’ or monkey talk by the Minister, or his unwanted outpourings of contempt about overweight players. If the Minister is serious about improving cricket, he will certainly have to probe very deep into the functioning of the organization and persons in charge of cricket. He will have to move into very much worse and corrupt places than a parrot’s nest that Malinga referred to. But, can his anger at ’rilav’ talk make him even think of such necessities? It looks like a ‘gon kathava’.

Lasith Malinga has been punished for having the guts to say what he thought must be said. Kudos to him for that, whatever pain he may have to face with the punishments imposed by the SLC. Here’s hoping that more cricketers, who have a genuine feel for the good of the game, will think of the necessity for more such talk in the future.

Lasith Malinga is certainly not down with what he said. The cricket loving people of Sri Lanka like him for his courage in speaking the truth, even if it was against SLC regulations. It is time for some new thinking on the right to Freedom of Speech among sportsmen and sportswomen, without the curbs of controlling bodies.

Many a minister has exposed one’s foolishness with asinine statements made in public. The time may not be far when their politics may be finished due to such talk, and the field of sport may well be the beginning of that.

Cheers to Lasith Malinga – Keep the Gira-Vanduru Katha alive!

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