Rip Van Winkle, in The Sunday Times, August 2018, where the title is “The corridor of uncertainty” .… with emphasis added by The Editor, Thuppahi
I thought of writing to you when I heard you saying that you will not be running for the top job when the contest is held in little over a year. Hearing that, I was very disappointed – and quite surprised too because I always thought you would have been the ideal candidate to run the race next time around.
I suppose the recent election victory of Imran in Pakistan must have got you thinking. If he could do it, why couldn’t you, you must have asked yourself. Then you must have realised that this is Paradise and not Pakistan, where our equivalent of Imran, Captain Cool, couldn’t even lead Sri Lanka Cricket!
Of course, Kumar, we all agree that you might be more suitable to run for the top job than some of those who have contested previously. Why, come to think of it, you might even be better than some of those who have won the race lately – and we both know who we are talking about, don’t we?
It is not that you have not led Paradise before. You have done so on the cricket field – and with distinction too. They say that you are still the only skipper to lead Paradise to victory in a series Down Under. Don’t get me wrong, Kumar, no one doubts your achievements on the cricket field.
In politics too, you do have a few ‘qualifications’ to run for the top job. Your smiling face beckons to us from dozens of billboards around the country. What’s more, unlike politicians who have to pay to get their face on the billboards, you are paid to be on them. So, your publicity is already taken care of.
You are also a budding lawyer – and most politicians are lawyers. You were unable to complete your studies in law because of your career in cricket. Now, that shouldn’t deter you because there are enough VIPs who have completed their studies in law with a little bit of help – just ask Namal!
You also have an important qualification to become a successful politician: you can switch sides at the blink of an eye and then convince everyone that it is the best thing to do. Who can forget your advertisement after switching from one mobile network to another, saying “mama than maaruwuna”?
In the past few years, you have been the face of soft drinks, milk powder, instant noodles, cars, mobile networks, shirts, banks, paints, supermarkets and even three-wheelers. This shows us that you are willing to tout anything, if you are paid the right price. What more can you ask of a politician?
Why, quite unlike other politicians who have to wait for several years and also be in the good books of the big boss to be entrusted with a ministry, you have already been in charge of a ‘ministry’. I am referring, of course, to the ‘ministry’ that deals with crabs where you and Mahela are partners.
You have another attribute which serves a politician well. You ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you. Remember that England tour in 2009, when you and Mahela opted to play in the IPL for big bucks, instead of playing for your country in Old Blighty?
You are also a born orator, so you would naturally do well in politics. Eloquent in both Sinhala and English, you would have been a welcome change from Mahinda maama’s ‘apey haamuduruwaney’ and Maithri’s ‘hitan’- and who could beat that fake posh accent you put on when speaking overseas?
Besides, we all remember that ‘Spirit of Cricket’ lecture you delivered at Lords. You were critical of how cricket is run in Paradise. We don’t disagree with that, but you showed another trait of a good politician: you scored brownie points with the rest of the world by badmouthing your own country.
What doesn’t make you a good politician is your decision to resign after the 2011 World Cup where you led Paradise to the finals. Didn’t you know, Kumar, that politicians in Paradise never resign, they just linger on, even when they have promised that they will serve only for one term and no more?
Anyway, Kumar, you have now made your decision. Not only did you say that you wouldn’t be running in 2020, you also said that you will not enter politics at all. But then, we have heard that one before from someone else. Do you know who that was? Yes, it was Gota and look at what he is doing now!
PS – Sometimes I feel that being a loyal old-Trinitian, it might be a good idea that you decided to keep away from politics because old-Trinitians who were spoken of as potential leaders never fared too well. I am thinking of Denzil K, Gamini D and Kadir. They all suffered a similar fate, didn’t they?
Meera Srinivasan: “Evoking the Politics of Cricket in Sri Lanka,” 17
August 2018, https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/evoking-the-politics-of-cricket-in-sri-lanka/article24719095.ece
Parveen Akthar: “Imran Khan: from cricket pitch to politics, Pakistan’s next prime minister has played the long game,” 30 July 2018, http:// theconversation.com/imran-khan-from-cricket-pitch-to-politics-pakistans-next-prime-minister-has-played-the-long-game-100683
“Sangakaras visit St. Patricks College, Jaffna” 12 April 2011, https://thuppahis.com/2011/04/12/sangakkaras-visit-st-patricks-college-jaffna/ …..
Nihar Sudar: The Corridor of Uncertainty: How Cricket Mended a Torn Nation (p’back 2015) ….https://www.amazon.com/Corridor-Uncertainty-Cricket-Mended-Nation/dp/1785311174