Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sri Lanka cricket: an example of what we can do together

The 3Ms have been anchoring our bowling attack for a while now: Murali, Malinga and Mendis. But last nite's semi-final against brought out another M-powered bowling weapon: Matthews. Wow, what a game .. of course Dilshan's amazing knock of 96 was the key that gave the bowlers the room they needed to destroy the West Indies. One more bit of work left :-).

So this blog is not about cricket. Its really about how Sri Lanka can perform when we work as a single country instead of a group of people divided on all kinds of lines. Our cricket team has had their ups and downs, but we have been a dominant force in every sense for a long time. We won the cricket world cup in 1996 and are on track to win the Twenty 20 World Cup now. We've won numerous matches in between and for the most part are considered one of the stronger teams in the world.

Take a look at our cricket team - its not Sinhalese, its not Tamil, its not Muslim, its not Buddhist, its not Christian, its not Hindu etc.! Its ALL of those put together. There are rich Colombo kids, there are poor village kids, there are those who speak eloquently in English, there are those who can barely stammer out a few grammatically correct sentences, and there's even an Army officer on the team!

(Yes yes I'm not stupid to think the team selection process is perfect and without politics. That doesn't happen anywhere except Eutopia. The results, however, speak for themselves.)

We're a small country with incredibly strong foundations in so many aspects. Our economy is 1/3rd the annual revenue of IBM. It is SOOO easy to make Sri Lanka into a great nation that people look up to and instead of trying to run away from, want to come to.

Yet instead, we attack each other by drawing boundaries along racial lines, religious lines, caste lines (within the races), city/village lines and so on. Who are we competing against? Ourselves. In the modern flat world, there is nothing local - everything is global. So fighting against each other simply makes us a pawn of others who are trying to improve themselves. That's what has happened to us in the last 30+ years .. we let our own stupidity take over and allow to be exploited by others for their own advantage.

Yes I blog regularly about how world politics is screwing with us yet. I will continue to do so.

However, the world can do that only as long as WE ALLOW THEM TO DO SO. It is our opportunity to screw up. It took us one election cycle after independence in 1948 before we became idiotic and acted in politically expedient ways that destroyed our future. Now we have another chance - and for once a hard fought independence from the clutches of terrorism.

We have incredibly high literacy rates. Life expectancy rates that match up the best in the world. Infant mortality rates that are better than many western nations. Our people are not dying in their thousands out of malnutrition and starvation.

It is up to the majority Sinhala Buddhist people to reject politics of separation. It is up to the minorities in whatever form, to support politicians that want unity and not separation. Its time for all of us to say bye to racially and religiously focused political parties; what we need are national politics, not one that is hell bent on gaining advantage for one fragment of our population over the rest. We need political parties that are hell bent on taking Sri Lanka on to the global championship and can produce winning teams, no matter what the game is!

We in Sri Lanka love to blame our politicians for all the misgivings of the country. Given that we're a democracy, the blame lies squarely on our own shoulders: we are ALLOWING the politicians to do whatever and get away with it.

The baton is in our hands; let's run with it.

7 comments:

Ruwan Linton said...

Well, I read this to find what makes you to write about the semifinal cricket match, but read an much more interesting post.

I completely agree with you. At the same time I think we need think in terms of the country. Most of the people think in terms of themselves only... The war against the terrors brings back the thought of the country to ourselves and now it is up to our selves to make the use of it and develop the country... To me it is not politicians who is wrong but most of the people who are waiting for the government to do the things for the country and also for themselves. Well, politicians are also part of us, so it is the same mindset issue of thinking about themselves rather than the country causes the issue with politicians as well.

As you said, this is the final chance for us to get rid of these mindsets and get together as a Sri Lankan family to develop this nice country for it to not only be the perl in the Indian ocean but in the whole world just like our cricket team.

Wenu said...

Sanjiva, I cannot agree with you more. It's my firm belief that we as Sri Lankans can achieve unimaginable feats, if we really put our hearts and minds to it. Cricket is a classic example where we have tasted tremendous success. I'm confident we can do the same in any other field and become a country such as Singapore or Hongkong in the near future. However, it will be important for us to make that progress while retaining and preserving the rich cultures that set us apart from the rest of the world. One can question this notion to say this is impossible in an open economy. However unrealistic it may sound, I stand by my opinion for two reasons. Firstly, If we can set all these trends in cricket, and a number of other fields we should be able to do the same in the economy front too. Secondly, and most importantly someone somewhere has to set a precedent for others to follow. We Sri lankans are quite capable of that and are well poised to accomplish that task. I must say I'm very proud of people like Sanjiva, who had worked so hard to realize their dreams and taste the success they richly deserve. More than anything else I really admire the fact that these people care about the country to write something about it and do whatever possible to the best of their ability. It's my earnest wish that all the sri lankans would follow the same suit and bring the glory and the success in all their respective areas to the country we love so much.

I would like to end my two cents worth of comments with this quote from the Rabindranath Tagore, the great poet, who always believed that noble achievements are within one's reach.

"Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake"

Wenu said...

Sanjiva, I cannot agree with you more. It's my firm belief that we as Sri Lankans can achieve unimaginable feats, if we really put our hearts and minds to it. Cricket is a classic example where we have tasted tremendous success. I'm confident we can do the same in any other field and become a country such as Singapore or Hongkong in the near future. However, it will be important for us to make that progress while retaining and preserving the rich cultures that set us apart from the rest of the world. One can question this notion to say this is impossible in an open economy. However unrealistic it may sound, I stand by my opinion for two reasons. Firstly, If we can set all these trends in cricket, and a number of other fields we should be able to do the same in the economy front too. Secondly, and most importantly someone somewhere has to set a precedent for others to follow. We Sri lankans are quite capable of that and are well poised to accomplish that task. I must say I'm very proud of people like Sanjiva, who had worked so hard to realize their dreams and taste the success they richly deserve. More than anything else I really admire the fact that these people care about the country to write something about it and do whatever possible to the best of their ability. It's my earnest wish that all the sri lankans would follow the same suit and bring the glory and the success in all their respective areas to the country we love so much.

I would like to end my two cents worth of comments with this quote from the Rabindranath Tagore, the great poet, who always believed that noble achievements are within one's reach.

"Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake"

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Srinath's Blog said...

I can not agree more. To add my two cents, in my opinion, a part of the problem is that we---Sri Lankans---have lost faith on each other. This faith, the belief that others would not exploit although one has lower his own guard is a great thing, and it always yields a team, which is greater than a sum of it's parts.
One of the example of this trust the history can offer is Phalanx formation practised by Greeks (and later by Swiss) to great effect. One of the key features of the formation is that each man is protected not by his own shield, but by the one hold by the guys in the right, which gave each guy maximum freedom on the battlefield. Then, each man literally have put their life in the guy in the right, and trust them to carry out the job. Result was a formidable formation---for instance, Aleksandr the Great used this to its full effect---which was legendry until after decades later Roman's out maneuver them in Battle of Magnesia through the flank (topic of interest, but not relevant to our discussion).
However, it is so easy to preach, and very hard to carry it out, because the trust is mutual. In game theory, Prisoner's dilemma shows how hard (probabilistically) for two untrusting guys to trust each other. For example, with the traffic in the Kandy road, it takes close to 2 hours to drive from Flower road to Gampaha---28km---which says we drive about 14km/hour. I am sure if we all can drive with order, we can get to the destination much faster---I mean how can you drive slower than 15km/h? However, none of us (including me who soon learnt the hard way that no quarter is given there) trust others to not to exploit it if we drive nicely.
So my concluding remark is that trust is such a great thing. Each of us by ourselves can only do so much, and it takes teams to make difference. The trust---or should I say faith, which assures each guy to play his own role, is the key in a great team. But, trust is mutual where it is so hard to keep and easy to break. Every time someone exploit someone else, he contributes to this inertia of untrust by making victim's heart bit more untrustful, and the society (or the team) as a whole takes a step back. You do it over a long time, we get where we are.

- Gini said...

Dilshan beleived he won't stand a chance of playing for Sri Lanka if he didn't change his malay moslem name from Tuan Mohammad Dilshan to Tillekeratne Dilshan.

In Pakistan Yousaf Youhanna had done the reverse and become a moslem (now known as Mohammad Yousaf) so that he'd have a chance to Captain Pakistan.

Before, and sometimes after, every tour the cricket team participates in a pirith ceremony. Devout catholics like Vaas and Dilhara have no option but to grab the chord and pay homage like the rest of 'em. They don't have a choice but to be Sinhala Buddhist. Ask Murali...

bathmate said...

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Bathmate