Sri Lanka’s recent cricketing disaster at Cardiff shouldn’t have been a shock to the nation because in cricket, as in any other game, a team wins or loses – at times even disastrously.
The shock is probably because most Sri Lankans have been developing a mind-set that we are invincible in games or any other endeavour. The thought ‘Sri Lanka can’t lose’ has reached such extremes that we are right now preparing to take on the United Nations!
Imagine the song and dance that would have followed had we won the World Cup. Not only would there have been lighting of of crackers, kiributh and kavun on the streets the night after but we would have been celebrating still. And we all know who would have been proclaimed as the architect of the victory!
True, Sri Lanka lost only the finals in World Cup cricket. That is testimony to the ability of our cricketers despite the performance of the country’s controlling body of cricket administration doing its damnedest to wreck the game since we clinched the cup way back in 1996. How our leading politicians and their cohorts as well as cricket’s nobodies including racketeers and even bookies played hard to win the plums of office is now history. The situation has not changed very much but is even getting fruitier and nuttier.
Last Sunday it was reported that opening batsman Upul Tharanga has been tested positive for drugs – a medication called prednisolone. And it was said that it had been prescribed by a ‘VIP doctor’. Doesn’t Sri Lanka Cricket have a professional consultant qualified in sports medicine to monitor drugs taken by our players?
For sometime now it has been rumoured that a Rasputin has gained entry to the holiest of holies and carrying out wonder cures on sportsmen and VIPs. Colombo’s chattering class had it sometime ago that a leading lawyer had been treated by Rasputin for his diabetes and nearly went into a coma (hyperglycemia – low blood sugar).The leading lawyer having consulted normal doctors is now said to be learning his lessons elsewhere.
The spiritless performance of Sri Lankan cricketers in their second innings at Cardiff indicates a deeper malaise than medical prescriptions. Are those who have not held a bat or ball trying to dictate to the cricketers?
Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that the authorities are doing their best to save the game.
Enter the cricketing Veddahs
News that will bring cheer to cricket fans is that Veddahs have taken to cricket. There were pictures of them playing the game in newspapers the other day. Perhaps attempts will be made to form a Veddah Cricket Club on the lines of the Sinhalese Sports Club, Tamil Union, Burgher Cricket Club and Moors Sports Club, etc., to ensure there is no racial discrimination. Some may consider it inappropriate to call Veddahs – Veddahs. Indigenous People should be acceptable and hence Indigenous Cricket Club on the lines of the Nondescript Sports Club may be better.
Those who want to protect the Veddhas and preserve their way of life however ask why this attempt to ruin their lives is being made. The Veddahs are people who enjoy living in jungles, hunt for their food, collect bees’ honey etc. What has ‘civilised society’ or the cricket playing class got against the Veddhas? they ask. Why make them look like the men on the Moon with boots, cricket pads, arm guards, gloves and helmets when they are quite happy with their traditional dress?
Will they have an Interim Board that cannot account for their earnings on TV rights and the like and bosses of an Interim Board to tell Veddahs how to hunt when all they had done throughout their lives is to talk cock and bull.
Cricket as we know is politics. Why do you think we build cricket stadiums costing millions when we can’t afford to pay our university teachers a decent salary. Why do you think we tried so hard to win the World Cup? And what a slogan it would be for elections: We taught even the Veddhas to play cricket!
Enter Vana Ali
The time has now come to give the Veddhas who have been known by that name throughout history a new name. The pundits should be put to work such as effectively changing the name of Sri Lankan elephants from Val Aliya to Vana Aliya. Pundits of the Sinhala language tell us that there is no difference in meaning between Val and Vana—both meant jungle. But the term Val came to have other connotations such as Val Miniha, Valla- men who are cads. And so the honorific term has been bestowed on the jumbos – Vana Aliya.
The change of name for the lovable animals now moving fast towards extinction will not save them. Each day we read heart-rending reports of the slaughter of animals by villagers trying to protect their crops, trains knocking them down, the inhuman device recently produced by cultivators – Hakka Patas – exploding in their mouth when the animals pick it up for food, explosion of landmines used in the terrorist war and killing for their tusks. The railway to Jaffna to be re-opened will account for the remaining few herds in the northern jungles. Human–Elephant conflict is the name given to the murder of these innocent giants. It is their ‘traditional homelands’ that man has invaded.
Tears and a name
This noble beast venerated by over 75 per cent of the population cannot be saved by tears shed or the change in name like changing street names.