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Why our economy needs cricket

Aug 24, 2011 2:30:42 PM - www.ft.lk

When Sanga was in free flow at Lords not on his customary turf but in the hollowed surroundings of intellectual banter, he displayed once again that silken smoothness that has made his game and his persona such a hot property.
No wonder they said ‘you are a hard act to follow, Sir’. Typically, this smooth craftsmanship met with a tirade by none other than the Sports Minister. Fortunately, the ballyhoo was resisted with the kind of fight back that even our opposition in Parliament cannot muster these days.
The left, right and centre of the body politic all converged to protect Sanga and preserve him for another long innings, silken of course!

But, what’s the catch? Sanga, after all, plies his trade as selfishly as Sanath or Murali. He cannot claim to be a commercial pariah like Arjuna, who disdained the lucre for greater morality, settling for the wilderness from which there may not be a comeback trail.
Today, Sanga sardonically makes a case for the Trust the Nation puts in a Bank and smiles at the camera for fees that may be the envy of shining Hollywood or Bollywood stars.
The bat pad explanation is that there is money for the taking in cricket where umpires, like the three wooden monkeys, are deaf, dumb and blind. The DRS is not activated by the powers that be who will argue that technology is for the fainthearted.
The Right to Information rests with the Chief Executive; no need to waste everyone’s time. If need be the file will be brought out of the cupboard that is secure and placed in the appropriate media for all to see. One down, many to go! Not-so-past meanderings by the Board that is hardly Cricket as we all know rose to such wuthering heights that even a Dilscoop would have looked lacklustre! But thanks to an enlightened COPE, more than a snick was evident and hawk eye with Harsha like precision reverberated on the large screen with a luminous OUT.
Consider for an unbelievable moment the larceny of a Secretary who squandered millions on jaunts while the dandy Director confused fraudulence with flatulence, bowling doosras that even Murali could not have executed so consistently!
The Almighty finally caved in and reconstructed the Board. In fairness, a few good men of repute have been assembled together and an insider trader thrown in for good measure will surely keep them busy.
With Sidantha-like classic straight bats brought in fortuitously to save the game, the chances are that the fortunes of cricket will not be spirited away as callously as done in the past. Surreptitiously yes, but that is another matter.
The over-riding fantasy that cricket lends to our economy is quintessentially its mind-blowing glamour and excitement. Just watch the idiot box and compare the exclamations of a little urchin and a blue chip magnate; they are both so wondrously childlike in despair when Dilshan on one of his many outings gives his wicket away without troubling the scorer!
Likewise, when all is lost in island frolics with hedging, contamination, boulders in unforgiving places, Chinese invasions, channels that rake human rights or pachyderms that cannot unite, cricket it is what brings our nation together and provides the glue that allows citizen Perera his euphoric sustenance and the chance to cheer another day.
Standard & Poor may have relegated the useless states into dire straits but our CB has no worries, what with 8B in reserve and the positive sentiment of cricket to boot. One more day-nighter lights up the heavens and we are all set to dance in the stands.
Like tourism, cricket creates a pantheon of employment opportunities that no employment agency can match. From school masters, coaches, scorers, transporters, grounds man, printers, publicists, agents, trainers, doctors, commentators, curators, umpires, players, managers, directors and even white sorcerers, the gentleman’s game benefits all and sundry, even its un-gentlemanly conduct is exhibited.
The economy gets its salve from that largesse and season after season, offers hope and succours many a mum who accompanies her little ward at the dawn of the day or in the twilight shadows to learn the basics and dream of a walk alongside superstars like Sanga or Mahela.
Fair enough! Life is like that. When all is lost, turn to make believe. In the perennial battle to move ahead and usher a prosperous clime, small disasters must not limit our ability to win at any cost. Walking before snicko is consulted and is not condoned these days.
As the father of Cricket, W.G. Grace said, they came to watch me bat, not you umpire! So what does a little Vaseline here and there matter, when Sanga batting as smoothly as silk takes the blues away and compels us to weather another day!

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