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Cricket Luverly Cricket…

By Gamini Weerakoon

(February 28, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian)
In the tranquil times of the ’50s and even the ’60s most towns and their politicians were content if their main town was provided with a central bus stand, a public library and public lavatory. Not so now. They want multi million, if not billion rupee stadia, among other things.

History of stadium building

Sports loving minister V.A. Sugathadasa started it all in the ’60s by constructing the Sugathadasa Stadium. But the funds were mostly from the public such as from showman Donovan Andree. This irked Sugathadasa’s up and coming rival, Ranasinghe Premadasa but he did not have enough political clout to put up a stadium at that time and had to bide his time.

After 1977 the desire of politicians to have stadia named after them abounded. Tyronne Fernando had the Moratuwa Stadium named after him and then Gamini Dissanayake built up his old school grounds at Trinity College Asgiriya into a beautiful stadium. Premadasa Stadium followed — the first grounds for day-night cricket in Sri Lanka and then came Dambulla. Now with Sri Lanka to host the 2011 World Cup with India and Bangladesh two additional new stadia are coming up. One in faraway Hambantota at an estimated cost of a whopping Rs. 900 million and another at Pallekelle for Rs. 450 million.

Playing pandu

The horrendous outcome of all this building of sports arenas is that, except for the Premadasa Stadium, none of the former stadia are to be used as a venue for the 2011 tournament! What a colossal amount of money to be spent to ‘play pandu’ when the great majority of the people find it hard to have even one square meal a day?

Cricketing pundits have explained this financial profligacy on the basis that older grounds do not have sufficient capacity. This point of view, we hope will not be taken as an ex-cathedra pronouncement. What are the estimated crowd attendances? What has been the maximum attendance recorded in Colombo at Premadasa that hosts one day internationals? Most of our cricket fans watch such matches on TV in the comfort of their sitting rooms.

According to Wikipedia the work at Hambantota and Pallekele has proceeded beyond the halfway mark. Would their capacities be sufficient to hold another international event 10 years hence? If not build more stadia? The gravy train in cricket seems to be immense.

Sonna boy and the over sixties

All this is sour grapes, a committed Rajapaksa fan, tells us. He goes into euphoric ecstasy imagining Sonna Boy Jayasuriya blasting away at the Hambantota Stadium. Just imagine Sonna blasting six after six off those foreigners while our own Ruhunu kellas, as cheer squads do kalagedi dances? Isn’t there an ounce of patriotism left in you? No wonder you fall into the category of traitors, he says.

But how does he know Sonna will be chosen to play with this Tharunyata Hetak (Tomorrow is for the Youth) policy of Mahinda? Should a 40-year-old play for Sri Lanka? Squads have to be selected and the team chosen from the pool.
Veteran cricket commentators of the state press, have said Sonna will be there, he argues.

Even one year before the tournament they know it

Besides, Jayasuriya will be an MP and even a minister, he claims.

But how does he know that Sonna will be elected even before the election is held? Have the MPs been already chosen and declared elected?

‘Machang, don’t talk like Fonseka. You know what happened no?’

Enjoy ‘cricket, luverly cricket……’

Forget your politics and enjoy the glorious future ahead, he advises. ‘Look at our team: Malini, Geetha, Ravi, all top stars no? Imagine them cheering Sonna Boy at the World Cup as he clouts six after six.

Will Malini, Geetha and others be performing as cheer leaders, in their Gini Jungi (hot pants)?
Cheekay no! That’s against our culture no. Against Mahinda Chinthanaya. They will be doing Ruhunu dances in redda-hette while Sonna Boy clouts over the ropes. There will be massive crowds, cheering with patriotic fervour.

But aren’t these Malinis, Geethas and Ravis all sexagenarians?
Don’t be a cad, sex has nothing to do with cricket.

No, no who spoke of sex? Sexagenarian is a Latin word for those in the sixties.

Don’t talk Greek or Latin. You are jealous of Malini, Geetha and Ravi and others.
Of course not, we said but did admit they were in their ‘well kept sixties’. Our objection is to millions being wasted in playing pandu and cricket being used as ‘a political football’.

My friend the cricketing pundit quoted some cricket writer who had said: ‘If Stalin had learnt to play cricket, the world would have been a different place’. He even quoted Robert Mugabe: ‘Cricket civilises people, creates good gentlemen and I want everyone in Zimbabwe to play cricket. I want ours to be a nation of gentlemen.’

While we do hope that our cricket makes us all gentlemen, we hope that it will not make us gentlemen like Mugabe and his cronies who have made Zimbabwe a living hell.

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