Colombo Telegraph

Our Cricket – A Parable Of Our Political Dysfunction

By Noel Berman –

Noel Berman

On Saturday our Lions showed that they are indeed capable of great things. They began the run chase and it appeared that they were heading for an upset victory. The commentators were impressed. They described the run chase using adjectives reserved for a champion team and many were anticipating a great Sri Lankan victory over their Australian opponents.

Facebook and other social media were full of praises and hopes were running high. A glorious future was finally dawning and there would be no turning back. The ominous dark clouds of the past were being banished in the hope of a magnificent victory.

And then the inevitable happened. One by one the wickets tumbled and hope slowly turned into despair. Sidharth Monga, a writer for ESPN Cricinfo, summed it up in a headline, “Dysfunction, hope, more dysfunction; Sri Lanka’s World Cup rolls on.” He describes petty politics, too many players and captains in between Word Cups, coaches, unexpected victories and a host of other things that make the team bring both hope and despair to the fans. 

“It all ends in dysfunction, though. Senior players take zero responsibility of a run-a-ball chase. They crash all hope spectacularly” says Monga.

So now the disenchanted, disillusioned and despairing fans are left licking their wounds and the little pride that’s left in them makes some lash out in anger and resentment. Their collective soul has been beaten to pulp and all that some can do is to retreat to our past glory. They talk about the 1996 World Cup win against Australia in Lahore, the finals in 2007 and 2011 and of greats like Sangakkara, Sanath, Murali and Mahela. Like a man reaching the end of his life, he has no more dreams of a future just the nostalgia of a past he tries to re-live. 

Blue skies are replaced by dark clouds and once again, hope is gone to be replaced by despondency and depression while a dysfunctional cricketing administration reigns supreme.

And like our cricket so is our politics. Seventy years of dysfunction, hope, more dysfunction; Sri Lanka as a nation rolls on. And the question is, is there even any hope this time around or are we consigned, doomed or cursed to live in a state of dysfunction or as a political scientist may call it, a failed state. 

Like our cricket team we have no limit of people we can blame. We can blame the coach, the selectors, the senior players, the ICC, the hotels, the grounds and even the weather. 

Our seriously high level of dysfunction is such that we can never blame ourselves for all the cheap racist politics of bankrupt politicians who have nothing else to offer the electorate but promise of “racist hegemony” We can only fuel and then pander into their base natures by playing the racist card and blaming the “other” for our stupid decisions and policies, our impotency in acting as statesmen and our myopic vision.

It is never “us” or “we” who are to blame. It is not we who brought about our own downfall when JR Jayewardene first mooted the idea of “Sinhala Only” in the National State Assembly in 1944 and SWRD Bandaranaike (whose ancestors were Tamils) for implementing it. (His daughter Chandrika now says it was a big mistake, but she did nothing to change it while she had all the power to do so). We don’t blame J R, Cyril Matthew and others for the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983 and after defeating the separatists in 2009 we had a Kalinga Moment but squandered it. We found it easier to identify a new enemy rather than forge a Sri Lankan identity. Nor did we try to uplift the educational standards or the economic opportunities of the poor Sinhalese rather we found a new enemy to blame for the state they were in.

Now, all we can look forward to is yet another cycle of hope, disillusion, despair and hope again only to be cruelly cheated once more by yet another supremely dysfunctional government that is either impotent, incompetent or incredibly corrupt. 

Look closely at our cricket, it is a mirror of the dysfunction that is Sri Lanka. No one takes responsibility as “they crash all hope spectacularly” Will this be our future? 

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