Leave Sanga alone


by Rex Clementine

Our thoughts are with a certain cricket administrator who seems to be suffering from a sickness called Sadistic Personality Disorder. The symptoms of this sickness are ‘callous, vicious, manipulative, and degrading behaviour expressed towards other people.’ Theodore Millon identified four subtypes of sadists. They are; Explosive Sadist, Tyrannical Sadist, Enforcing Sadist and Spineless Sadist. Of these four types, Tyrannical Sadists are said to be deriving ‘a special sense of satisfaction by forcing their victims who are either famous or popular by brutalizing them into submission’. Star batsman Kumar Sangakkara seems to be his latest victim.

Sanga has been world’s best cricketer for the last five years. It has been extremely satisfying to see him at that position, for one reason. He wasn’t the most gifted batsman of his era, but sheer hard work has got him where he is. Sanga gives a sense of hope for those who aren’t naturally gifted in their chosen profession. His message is that through hard work you can achieve your dreams.

Leave the cricket aside, the British would gladly embrace Sanga as one of their own for he would easily beat, say Alastair Cook or James Anderson if there were a contest on the works of William Shakespeare or Charles Dickens. Forget the cricketers, even David Cameron or Ed Miliband would be challenged. People have speculated many things for Sanga in post-retirement. We reckon Knighthood as one of the possibilities.

As much as his cricket, the Australians admire his sledging as well as the charity initiatives he has taken up. They see a bit of Steve Waugh in him. The world is in awe of Sanga, the cricketer, the speaker and the philanthropist. There are many facets to this great man. But sadly individuals at our own backyard seem to be deriving satisfaction by hurting and tarnishing the image of this iconic figure.

Today individuals who made a name for themselves because of cricket administration are gunning for, perhaps the greatest batsman the country has produced.

It’s not just with cricket that Sanga has brought honour to the country. His stunning Cowdrey Lecture in 2011 saw a complete change of attitude towards the Asians at Lord’s – the Home of Cricket. For all its charm, tradition and history, Lord’s can be a funny place. If your skin is dark, stewards tend to be rude, ‘Oi! Where do you think you are going?’ was a common way of greeting the Asians. But that spellbinding speech by Sanga in that July evening changed things around completely. After Sanga’s speech on Spirit of Cricket, there was a remarkable change in stewards’ attitude. Now they say, ‘Excuse me sir, can I help you?’

Cricket officials’ ways are mysterious. A month ago they were doing their utmost to safeguard a ‘podian’ cricketer. They came up with the ridiculous story that the player was sleepwalking. But when it comes to an iconic figure which is Sanga, the same officials seem to be doing everything to project him in bad light.

Senior cricket officials yesterday tendered several apologies to Sanga for an effort by one of their own to tarnish his image. They felt the whole episode, on which franchise Sanga should play during the Champions League, has been badly handled.

It has to be noted here that Sanga is contracted to play for the country and not the domestic team. Another issue is that if the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) had taken place, Sanga would have been eligible to play for a team managed by a foreigner comprising foreign players. It was not his fault that the SLPL got cancelled.

We would also like to mention here that Sanga since 2003 has foregone match fees and prize money for domestic cricket both club and provincial. This is due to the fact that he feels that domestic cricketers are paid a mere pittance and his earnings from domestic cricket go back to a pool to be shared by his club mates.

One administrator for quite some time has plotted kicking Sanga out of the national side together with another senior player. He has been putting pressure on the selectors to leave out the two senior players for international T-20s, but the selectors to their credit have resisted such moves saying they will pick players on merit alone.

We believe that Sanga should have the freedom to choose which team he will represent during the Champions League as it is a club tournament. However, we urge him to act with more responsibility in the future.

We expect him to lead from the front when the interests of Sri Lankan cricket are at stake in the future. Sadly, over the years his leadership on this matter has been extremely disappointing. He was one of the senior players who worked behind closed doors together with his agent Charlie Austin to cancel Sri Lanka’s cricket tour of England in 2009. It was silly of him to take up several technical issues and delay his departure to England for Sri Lanka’s tour of that country in 2011 again due to the IPL. From men like Sanga we expect more than that.

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