27 November, 2020

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Does Sangakkara Give Precedence To Money Over Country?

By Amrit Muttukumaru

Amrit Muttukumaru

Kumar Sangakkara is undoubtedly an exceptional person. He had an impressive school career in Trinity College, Kandy where he was Head Prefect and recipient of the coveted Ryde Gold Medal as ‘best all-rounder’ in 1996 and also the ‘The Trinity Lion’ for sports. Although he was selected to the Faculty of Law of the University of Colombo, he had to abandon his law studies due to cricketing commitments. Perhaps the country has been deprived of the services of an outstanding legal mind. As a batsman, he was simply outstanding and could easily be placed among the greats to wield the willow. 

It were these traits that got him invited to deliver the 2011 MCC ‘Spirit of Cricket’ Cowdrey Lecture, where he did the country proud by its lofty content and his eloquence. On 1 October 2019 he became the first non-British President of the Marylebone Cricket Club better known as MCC. The MCC was previously the governing body of cricket in England, Scotland and Wales.  The Lord’s cricket ground owned by MCC is widely considered the ‘home of cricket’.

Cowdrey Lecture

Sangakkara’s 2011 ‘Spirit of Cricket’ Cowdrey Lecture is essentially on the history of Sri Lanka cricket with emphasis on the period after Sri Lanka’s ‘world cup’ victory in 1996. It is a courageous and no-holds-barred lecture well articulated. The following are some highlights:

“In Sri Lanka, cricket and politics have been synonymous.”

“With the victory in 1996 came money and power to the board and players.”

“Players from within the team itself became involved in power games”

“corruption and wonton waste of cricket board finances and resources.”

The transcript of his speech can be accessed here

The delivery of the speech with reference to the highlights given above, can be accessed on:

(3:35 onwards)

Post-2011 World Cup Final Interview

Some comments of Sangakkara as captain of the losing side at his  post-world cup final interview with Ravi Shastri on 2 April 2011, are in direct variance with the admirable moral content of his ‘Cowdrey Lecture’ delivered on 6 July 2011. 

After forthrightly stating at the ‘Cowdrey Lecture’ (i) “In Sri Lanka, cricket and politics have been synonymous.” (ii) “With the victory in 1996 came money and power to the board and players.”,  at his  interview  with Ravi Shastri  he inter alia states: 

“I would like to thank everyone who helped us…….our President His Excellency the President who always always showed us the way”.  He also thanks “Dr. Eliyantha White”.

The link to the interview with Shastri is now not available. 

“This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Copyright Integrity International.”

Nevertheless, Shastri’s interview with India’s winning captain – M.S. Dhoni is available here

Readers who have the patience can listen to Sangakkara’s comments on the very poor quality link given below:

6:00 onwards (poor quality)

It is hoped that Sangakkara will take immediate steps to restore the original link. 

Alleged ‘Match-Fixing’

The 2011 Cricket World Cup Final has become a contentious issue due to allegations of ‘Match-Fixing’ also leveled by 1996 World Cup winning captain and former cabinet minister – Arjuna Ranatunga. The investigation of the alleged ‘match-fixing’ has been controversially “halted” as the allegations have been “deemed baseless” even without interviewing persons such as Ranatunga. This is despite Ranatunga asserting: “I was on the panel of commentators during this World Cup final, and I was really disappointed with Sri Lanka’s performance.”

It must be flagged that in the context of reports of presidential commissions, government task forces, police investigations and the like having little credibility in the view of most of the public, the report of the Sport Ministry’s Special Investigation Division deeming the allegations as “baseless” seems to have been accepted without demur by all and sundry. A leading English newspaper has even accepted this in two ‘editorials’! They may all be right and the allegations may well be “baseless”. But let us first have a credible and transparent investigation.

“Money and Power”

In the context of Sangakkara’s principled assertions at the ‘Cowdrey Lecture’, it is appropriate to ascertain the veracity of the following published in the UK based ‘The Guardian’ newspaper:

(1) “Sri Lanka sports minister Gamini Lokuge has ordered Sri Lanka Cricket to allow its top players to skip the tour of England next year and instead play in the Indian Premier League.”

(2) “Sri Lankan players including Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis have refused to tour as they have lucrative IPL contracts.”

(3) “Talks between players, SLC and the sports ministry have failed to resolve the issue, and Lokuge hinted a second-string team could be sent to England by way of compromise. “

If these allegations are true, what does it convey of the credibility of Sangakkara’s principled assertions at the ‘Cowdrey Lecture’ on issues such as:

“In Sri Lanka, cricket and politics have been synonymous.”

“With the victory in 1996 came money and power to the board and players.”

“Players from within the team itself became involved in power games”

Implicit in his ‘Cowdrey Lecture’ is patriotism and loyalty to the country. If the allegations of a “second-string team could be sent to England” and precedence given to “lucrative IPL contracts” are true, what does it say of Sangakkara’s loyalty and patriotism?

On a different note, commentator Grusha Andrews has delved deeply into Sangakkara even promoting some foods and beverages widely believed to be harmful to human health – particularly that of children. 

Conclusion

In the public interest, could we expect a response from Sangakkara and the other parties concerned including Arjuna Ranatunga -.on his allegation of ‘match-fixing’?

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Latest comments

  • 26
    3

    I wish that Kumar Sangakkara voluntarily offers his thoughts on the not so cricketing path he is accused of having traveled, to further his financial end.

  • 11
    13

    They say that money is the root cause of all evil.
    If he or any other human involved in professional sports desire to make more monies due to their finesse in their chosen field and if they are able to perform in an above-board manner that’s fine with me.
    =
    As one since 1975 have been a self-employed company director I have earned and spent hundreds of thousands of rupees and dollars in 3 countries.
    Therefore I will be a wet-blanket of a grudge bearer if Kumar S or any other human yokel by sheer hard work and dedication in a truthful manner I have no qualms on their making a quid or two.
    =
    Therefore I wish the likes of Kumar. S all the best in his sincere endeavours to better himself and those who are close to him.

  • 24
    23

    A load of BS. Knows that the mention of a prominent name will draw readers. Should get a life.

  • 18
    19

    “Does Sangakkara Give Precedence To Money Over Country”

    Amrit do you give Precedence To Money Over Country?

    Does the Rajapakses Give Precedence To Money Over Country ?

    Does The politicians The Maha Sangha G|ive Precedence To Money Over Country

    Amrit do you something against Kumar S…?

    This is why guys like Kumar S avoid gutter politics and gutter jurnalism

  • 12
    14

    (2) “Sri Lankan players including Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis have refused to tour as they have lucrative IPL contracts.”

    The writer obviously has a hidden agenda and he does not take in to account or explain the context of how and why the above legendary cricketers refused to go to England?
    Arjuna as the Chairman of the Cricket Board at the time, haphazardly organised an England tour from nowhere when the players have already been granted approval to play in IPL by BCCSL.
    There was a talk that Arjuna was offered some lucrative benefits if he arranged this tour to cover the early summer for England.
    Obviously, the players had to say ‘no’ to England tour for financial and professional reasons.
    The writer questions Sanga’s appearance in advertisements and they are just commercials and not brand endorsements by this great man.
    Recently, Colombo Telegraph seem to be taking a ‘medamulana’ approach to their writing with no respect to the readers or the audience that they cater to.
    Mr Muttukumaru, don’t try to see the world from Mahindananda’s lens as cricket fans love to keep Sanga, Mahela close to their heart as long as they behave like gentlemen.

    • 2
      5

      PART ONE
      .

      Kalum,
      .
      I agree with the opening two-thirds of your comment.
      .
      This article by Grusha Andrews, which I read with great sadness, was not only brilliant but also reflected clear thinking and a good sense of values.
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/carcinogenic-kumar-thanks-but-no-thanks/
      .
      In today’s context, we need more articles from Grusha. The first few things she wrote were first-rate; I think she later wrote a couple of mediocre articles and then stopped. She wrote some in Sinhalese as well, which was a wonderful move. I know how to navigate to them all, but that is hardly a chore that I want to undertake.
      .
      Rajash, twelve comments are on display right now; four are by you. They are all good, and testify to the strength of your admiration for Sangakkara, the cricketer. I’m just as much of a “fan” of his – but let us remember that that the word which has entirely positive connotations was derived from “fanatic” which has negative connotations.
      .

    • 15
      0

      PART TWO
      .
      I have given you the direct link to the Grusha article. So has Amrit Muttukumaru, although it doesn’t, at first glance, look like it. He has done it that way so as not to break the flow of the article. Having read the article a second time, I’m struck by how well it has been thought out and written.
      .
      Kalum, I’m sorry, but I cannot accept the facile distinction you try to make between “commercials” and “brand endorsements”. Implicit is a subtle insult to Sangakkara. He is one of the few who got an “A” Grade for A. Level English (that is the “main subject”, not General English that all students are expected to sit).
      .
      Sangakkara had great potential. He is still young in relation to a “social role”. As a cricketer – well, think of Sanath Jayasuriya’s last matches. My sincere hope is that he gives up his less ethical commercial ventures, and actually gets into politics. I know that he has already effortlessly made enough money. His wife is Yehali. Her father has also made lots of money through sheer hard work, efficiency and honesty (i.e. ethically earned a fortune) manufacturing tea machinery.

    • 2
      0

      PART THREE
      .
      Kumar needn’t
      give up his “Ministry of Crabs”. It is too expensive for me (besides crab is not recommended for the now-under-control “gout” that my tee-totalling body has exhibited). Rajesh, I’m glad that you are sufficiently wealthy to have visited the gourmet restaurant. I honour the commitment of vegans, but “what the hell”, I eat anything tasty provided the poor species is not threatened with extinction. I’m a reasonably honest man, but I’m sufficiently a sinner to not belong to any “Holy Brigade”.
      .
      It is better for any individual to have money, than not to have money. Karl Marx, like Gauthama Buddha, has never been a problem. Unfortunately, most socialists (let us remember that J.R. Jayawardena claimed to be one) are motivated by envy. Why not look at this article about how the Maldives is currently faring, and make a comment. That will provide me with an excuse for saying a few more useful things.
      .
      https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/maldives-reopens-tourism/index.html
      .
      I’m glad to note that the comments so far have been mature and responsible; I liked Sonali’s.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 48 3111 444V) aka “Sinhala_Man”

      • 2
        0

        Sinhala_Man: “….I’m glad that you are sufficiently wealthy to have visited the gourmet restaurant…”

        not at all. but sort of got a spare dime to indulge now and then.

        I have been visiting my mother country Sri Lanka for donkeys years to visit my mum and dad and close family. My parents passed away few years ago…but I still visit Sri Lanka every year.
        Sri Lanka is insidious despite the corruption, violence, racism…etc etc . Not sure this year due to Covid_19.

        On one occasion I visited Ministry of Crab may be a year after it was opened. I was lucky Sanga was there that evening.

        As you imply its heavily over priced. I have only visited on that one occasion.

        Ministry of Crab Shangri-La London was a charity event hosted by Mahela and the Head Chef last year. All the proceeding went towards the education of the children orphaned by the Easter bombs in Batti and Negombo. So it was a good cause.

  • 10
    14

    Amit, now you confuse me as you claim that you are an Economist. If Bill Gates as an investor put his money in foreign start ups , does it make him unpatriotic, evil or money minded ??? We just witnessed what our Govt did to these players by dragging into commissions and making them to give statements for hours. This is not US where Bezos may challenge Trump and still survive to built the company as number one . If you step on Rajapaksa you may not see your cricketing career end but dragged into all kind of framed up legal and other issues. During that time our own CJ was kicked out overnight , and war hero was spending his time in prison. How safe will be Sangha???? There is a mountain of difference between being right(safe guard family) and stupid. People like Sanga ,Mahela and Lasith had given enough to the country and there is nothing wrong in opting out to play IPL. They too have family, children and bills to pay. Get real Mr. Economist.

  • 11
    13

    Mr. Economist, there is few more political reasons behind this made up inquiry. 1)Sanga and Mahela questioned recent MR move behind building empty stadium 2)Sanga also in public encouraged public to vote for the right people (definitely Rajapaksas will not qualify) 3) Knowing his influence ,for a while Rajapaksas have been pressurizing Sangha (through Namal) to directly or indirectly canvass for them which he refused (that it self makes him patriotic) , Then they settled for Murali, Dilshan and Sanath.4) Sangha and Mahela have frequently raised their voice against selection board, sports ministry and administration which according to Rajapaksas men are not acceptable. 5) Sanga earned money by playing his heart out in IPL and County. Not like Mahindananda, Thilanka by way of corruption. 6) It would have been interesting to see, if it were you to pick between IPL and Country. My question is why do you keep harping on this when there is enough serious issues to worry right now???

  • 15
    14

    Sanga is paying a price for expressing his opinion against yet another white elephant cricket grounds in Homagama.

    The entire Pohatuva machinery is unleashed against him. This article is one example.

    • 7
      3

      Dear Rajash,
      .
      Thanks for three clear sentences.
      .
      The first two are quite right.
      .
      The third. You may be right – how can we know the mind of Amrit Muttukumaru whom I have never met?
      .
      I have met Kumar Sangakkara, but won’t claim that I “know” him. The wife and family are very well known to me, and even better to my family.
      .
      Let’s try to separate what we know to be definitely true from personal experience and knowledge, from what we extrapolate from other other thigs that we know for certain.
      .
      Kumar is a personal hero for me because of his cricketing feats, and also his oratorical skills. However, the article is a good one, and I will say more later.

      • 7
        0

        Thanks Sinhala_ Man.
        “The third. You may be right
        Perhaps ” I should have said Probably this article is ….”

        I have met both Mahela and Sanga but briefly..
        Mahela at a Ministry of Crab charity event at the London Shangri La. Had a long chat with him.
        Sanga very briefly at Ministry of Crab Colombo.
        They both came through as genuine , honest down to earth guys.

        You say this article is a good one.
        who expected that from Mohammad Azharuddin or Hansie Cronje.

        so as you say I will watch this space.

  • 9
    14

    Amrit I sorry but you cant compare the Cowdrey lecture with that of a post match interview after losing the world cup.

    the former well written speech, rehearsed and choreographed and well delivered , the latter post match interview , soon after losing the world cup finals, answering questions thinking on the feet. Of course as a captain of an Asian country he has to say a customary thank you to the President and bla bla about the President.
    Do you expect Sanga to say at the post match interview we lost because of corruption and patriotism in team selection?

    The worst ever post match interview was by Imran Khan the Captain of Pakistan after winning the world cup.!!!.

    If you haven’t watched it I encourage you to do so.

    He now admits that he regrets that interview.

    So even great sportsman get carried away under pressure.

    So comparing a post match interview to a well prepared Cowdrey lecture is absolutely stupid.

  • 1
    5

    This debate is taken too far. Kumar S is as human as any other Sri Lankan, his exceptional cricketing abilities notwithstanding. The hidden negative aspect of the Cowdrey Lecture was that he served as the mouthpiece of the western powers who wanted to bring down the Sri Lankan cricketing establishment, which incidentally was messing things up (undoubtedly – even up to now). However smart KS is, it is naïve to expect him to be a substitute for current politicians. Does anyone in Sri Lanka notice how Imran Khan (another legend) is doing in Pakistan?

    • 1
      0

      Dear Yasalalaka,
      .
      I don’t agree with you; so far, it looks as though it is going much better than most discussions on CT have been faring recently. Fourteen comments, not too much trolling.

  • 3
    0

    Corruption is a widespread virus throughout the world and it is a well recognised virus accepted by majority of the Srilankan voters. Not only in Cricket but also in many sports including Olimpics we see how countries involved with drugging their sportsmen to get medals. In competitive sports winning and loosing are common and chance play more than 50% of the victory.
    I don’t know why the 2011 Cricket final results taking priority in a General election. It appears that some one has to take adavantage over this matter. Unfortunately, any investigation or juridiscation in this country is not reliable and most of the time politically biased. Rather than finding a wrong juridiction it is better to ignore the matter. Even it is evident that Lasantha was murdered by some one, the country do not want to tell the truth.

  • 2
    1

    Ajith “…the country do not want to tell the truth.”

    “…the country do not want to know the truth either…”

    Its a Sri Lankan syndrome of “…they came for the jews ….but I am not a jew…”
    combined with the Sri Lankan syndrome of “…I am alright jack..”

  • 4
    13

    Mr Muttukumaru,
    I don’t know why you wrote this article. If it was done with the intention of attacking Kumar for reasons best know to yourself then it is a different story. But if this article was written due to thinking that whatever you belive is true then you are sadly misled.
    The present day Arjuna is not whom we saw when he was playing cricket. The truth is he does not like anyone taking the limelight away from him. This was there during his playing days too, but the good things he did at the time far outweighed the negative things. Since Kumar arrived on the scene he has taken the limelight away from Arjuna and now Kumar is being compared to Imran of Pakistan. Arjuna does not like this. Unfortunately Arjuna does not have the class, respect, oratorical skills of Sanga. As Kalum mentioned earlier, the English tour was hurriedly organised by Arjuna after the Lankan players have been granted leave to take part in IPL. Don’t forget that during the packer series, highly respected players like Imran and Viv Richards took part in the tournament without playing for their respective countries. I believe there should be a window for a tournament like IPL due to the lucrative deals involved. Crickets is no longer a game only as there are people living purely on cricket nowadays.

  • 0
    8

    Dear Rajash and any others who may have already commented:
    .
    Let’s hope that these three “former captains” succeed:
    .
    http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=224970
    .
    Where we stand on this business of “government harrassing” of Sangakkara must be very clear. In that we are on his side, with no misgivings. That’s because whatever way we choose to dissect Kumar’s ethics, psychology, etc. , he’s way more decent than fellows like Mahindananda Aluthgamage.

    • 0
      0

      Thanks for the link Sinhala_Man.
      Interesting times ahead.

  • 2
    0

    Yasalalaka, you do not need anyone to bring down Lankan cricket establishment, they have done it them selves, just as many others including srilankan airline. Give a break Bro.

  • 5
    14

    Muttukumaru is at it again.Attacking high profile individuals .His motivation is jealousy.It is rumoured he tried to play cricket in his stay @ SJC trying to emulate his grandfather but could not make the grade
    There is also talk that he is put up to discredit Kumar because he promotes a supermarket chain against Muttulumaru’s family one Shame
    CT please stop publishing articles by this character which indulges in character assasination

  • 1
    7

    More than twenty years ago , I was making my way towards the tennis courts at the SSC . Walking past the nets I saw a chap striking the ball so beautifully , that I turned back and stood watching him for a few minutes . I then went to a flight of steps near the score board and was doing some stretching . Some minutes later , this same young man who was at the nets came up to me still fully padded, held out his hand to me and said “how do you do ,Sir ?” I was rather taken aback.

    After tennis, I asked a friend – an old SSC cricketer and a walking encyclopedia of the game who this incredibly talented young left hander at the nets was .” Recent Trinity Captain Kumar Sangakkara” , he said . He was special , even then .

  • 5
    10

    It is said that if you need to knock one down, you must first get close to him. In writing this ploy is by first praising the subject and then say evil things called the sucker punch. (Amrit style). A la Brutus, in praising Ceaser – I have come here to bury Caesar, not to praise him – was the opposite approach to win over the crowd goaded by his opponents, for him to get power for himself. Unwittingly, a non discerning audience becomes trapped.

  • 4
    11

    why do you keep insulting respected people Sanga is an iconic figure as were others whom you have attacked.There is no basis to the insinuations you make I say SHUT UP

  • 3
    13

    Amrit Mutukumaru is often a much maligned man I have often stood with him But on this occasion I do not side with himIn fact I distance myself 20000 leagues away
    The article and its contents are not called for .Kumar Sangakkara the Matale Boy as we call him is a Right Honourable Gentleman
    Please withdraw your article Amrit Mutukamaru which smells like durian

  • 13
    2

    1) Some commentators are furious that I have dared to even seek CLARIFICATION from some ‘sacred cows’.

    2) I have been accused of “attacking” persons they describe as “iconic” and “high profile”. I have also been accused of “jealousy”!

    3) While categorically stating that I am not in the business of “attacking” anyone, should not “high profile” persons be held to a higher degree of probity and accountability?

    4) It is partly due to the propensity of many Sri Lankans, no matter what, to grovel at the feet of “high profile” persons that the country is in such a sorry state.

    5) Instead of proxies ‘shooting the messenger’, why don’t these “iconic” figures set the record straight themselves?

    6) On the issue of alleged ‘Match-Fixing’ (2011 World Cup Final) leveled by parties including Arjuna Ranatunga, why is no one taking the initiative to have the repeat telecast of the entire match (WITH DUE PUBLICITY) – including the controversial toss and the post-match interviews with Ravi Shastri?

    Amrit Muttukumaru

    • 10
      0

      I agree whole-heartedly with the common sense in your sixth observation. Repeat telecast the entire match with and speeches(with possibility for a few “interested” persons to record it all.
      .
      To not do so after all this debate is going to harm Sangakkara also.
      .
      Yes, some of the last few responses have been unnecessarily servile.

      • 0
        6

        Amrit/Sinhala_Man

        Sanga was interviewed by the CID for over 10 hours….
        was he interviewed ball by ball the entire match?
        why not ask the CID to make public the entire interview?

  • 0
    9

    Amrit Muttukumaru: I presume you have done your own analysis of the match and the interview and you are confident of match fixing.
    so why don’t you publish your analysis here?
    ” Readers who have the patience can listen to Sangakkara’s comments on the very poor quality link given below:”
    6:00 onwards (poor quality)

    please let us know what is in the interview that is a tell tale sign of match fixing?

  • 3
    8

    Amrit, no one is saying they are high profile, these are people who brought some respect to our country (currently there is not many) and you want to have a probe based on what Arjuna, Mahindananda (are they high profile to you) are now uttering as election stunt, a match which took place years ago. Where were these high profile people and you all this time.You mean to say our inquiry is much more credible than ICC and other related sports authorities. ICC has clearly told to give any such evidence so that they will look into it which Arjuna or Mahindananda is unable to provide. Dude Millions of people watched that game. We may not be pundits but we have common sense. You mean to say , you and those who allege have noticed evidence, which millions of us have missed. Give a break. If that was the case why is is that you have to talk about endorsements and IPL contract. What has that to do with World Cup match fixing??? Why is that you did not mention about Mahela,s charity walk to help building cancer hospital. Give us a break buddy. If anything to do with selection,administration or ministry then it is you who is shooting the messenger.

  • 3
    8

    Mr. Economist, , looks like because of Covid you have unlimited free time. Why dont you write issues pertaining to our economical bankruptcy. Though I am not I still can help you with plenty of information.

  • 5
    1

    Sportspeople have limited life span Presently most are professionals and in the limited span they have to secure their future .In the past in the non professional era many top sportspersons ended up ekeing out a living or living on charity
    Re the world cup fixing allegation it will be best if the claims made by Aluthgamage be made public.i.e. the proof he says he has.The statements recorded from Aravinda Upul Tharanga and Sanga also made available
    The public can decide

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