By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
Sri Lanka’s beloved singing entertainers, Gypsies, have come out with a beautiful tribute to true son of the soil, Mahela Jayawardena , who dazzled the world with his cricketing genius. He put in all his might for the country that raised him and gave the island glory. He behaved in and out of the field in a most exemplary way-every signature of the gentleman he is. At times like these in Sri Lanka, when almost everyone is seeking his/her self- interest putting the country behind priorities, Mahela must be seen as a star in the lonely and dark sky. Like Sanga, Mahela sought no special favour and kept his self-discipline and dignity.
Don Bradman is still a sacred- word here in Australia- a land that has prided itself in giving its heroes their due place. Such values are not any longer extolled in Lanka where the Army General who fought with blood, sweat and tears to save the country from a twenty-six year old terror was dragged away and put to jail; his hard-won medals grabbed by government; and citizenship rights curtailed. All these shameless and unpatriotic acts were committed while Sri Lankans both in the country and outside remained basically as bystanders.
The big picture is that Sri Lankan values have got a severe beating over the last decade. Those who work honestly are socially deemed as ‘fools,’ while the corrupt and the crooked have become role models because the latter have big money. Even education is so looked down upon that Lanka has recorded a 60 per cent drop -out -rate from higher education among school children. For a society turning corrupt what exactly is the need for higher education?
I like to raise just one question in connection with Mahela’s retirement: At the time of his decision there were complaints made by him about harassment by the big shots in the Cricket Board. Did any of these politically -planted plastic bosses cause him pain of mind and humiliation? I believe even Sanga had complained.
It is said that the Cricket Board has three mutually opposed cliques each one trying to tear down the other. Our innocent young players hopping from school to the team soon learn to play their own game against this tricky situation. The game of cricket suffers. The Board’s Chairman is Nishantha Ranatunge, who currently rules the roost, is a Sacred Cow of the regime because the regime cannot run Mihin Air and Carlton Sports Club without Nishantha. Nishantha is Chairman of the notorious White Elephant known as Mihini Air which has become a tragic joke. That alone should be enough for him to be removed.
Sri Lanka became endearing to most of the world due to the heroic performance of our cricketers. They-past and present- were our true ambassadors and not most of the louts who officially hold such positions today. If trends in our cricket administration continue this situation may be reversed.
If persons like Mahela can safely give an exit interview to the public they will reveal all. If the President wants to know, well, this is the short cut. Mahela’s retirement can be the beginning. His discontent can be symbolic of a mere tip of a big iceberg.
But will the President want to know? And will Mahela be safe in telling it all? The good man that he is, I prefer him not doing so.