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Are we bowling without umpires again? (Flight version)

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Thursday, 14 September 2017 00:00

This time around we have two umpires, one is clad in blue and the other in green


By Capt. Elmo Jayawardena 

I plagiarised this title from myself, bear with me for the repetition. It fits so well that I did not bother to create a new heading to tell a repetitive story. 

I wrote the original after the elections in 2010 when UPFA had an astounding victory. That was when I published the original ‘Bowling without umpires’. The gist of the story was that the ordinary Sri Lankans were getting hammered left right and centre by politicians in power who wrote the rules at their own whims and fancies. That was then, this is now and I did make some changes here and there to fit the current tableau. 

All that is political, the same Diyawanna Oya meanders in the vicinity of the same Parliament and the same Parliament stands majestically menacing, sheltering those we elected to rule us and a fair number of them to ruin us. 

Reminds me of the classic film ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ in black and white with Charles Loughton as Quasimodo and I am wondering whether we are currently watching the new Technicolor version in Toad AO, starring Anthony Quinn? The story unfortunately is the same, only the actors seem to be different. 

Let me put that sad saga aside and commence with the great Sangakkara and his retirement from international cricket. I read what his father wrote; excellent words of appreciation and praise without making him a demi-god. Well done Mr. Senior Sangakkara. So, the prodigy from Trinity has retired, went out with flying colours to a blaze of glory making us Sri Lankans proud for the role he played in and out of the cricket field. 

He sure is a great batsman; I love the way he left-out the political ball that pitched outside his off stump with a carrot dangling in the London High Commission. Sure, the offer would have been sincere but he was wise enough to know there was one gully, one leg slip and the wicket keeper and seven other politicos in the slips to catch him if he made a whisker of a mistake. Well left Kumar, you better stick to crab menus and Hameedia suits and shopping at Keells with your charming wife without trying to swim against the current at Diyawanna Oya.  

Another innings without umpires or fair-play with justice?

Now that cricket is mentioned I will go back to repeating the ‘missing umpire’ story. Seven years ago, I wrote that the proletariat of Sri Lanka was bowling without umpires. This is 2017 and the tide has turned and a new team is batting. The question is simple. Are we in for another innings that we will bowl without umpires or is there going to be fair-play with justice for one and all? Hopes were high in 2015, but then, they have always been high before they came tumbling down like Jack and Jill and the pail they carried.

Yes, this time around we do have two umpires and they are not wearing the Fly Emirates coats of chalk white. One is clad in blue and the other in green and both are from Rajakeeya Vidyalaya, one from Polonnaruwa and the other from Reid Avenue. 

True the current umpires cannot perform miracles as the coin is tossed. This is not 20/20 cricket or ODI where things happen in double quick time. We can understand the deliberating delays. After all, this is more like test cricket and it takes time. 

Already there are a few batsmen selected to the team waiting to play their innings. Sadly, their track records are more than questionable. It is unfortunate that we have started this innings with a bit of ‘hora umpiring’ which shames the very promises that splashed in neon before the elections. 

The hope is for better days to dawn, we shall pray that the umpires would have the sense and sensibility to steer away from the pitfalls of corruption that lie in their paths. In any case the only thing we the proletariat can do is to get up from the do-nothing seat and do something. It is we who changed the tide and placed our faith in ‘Yahapalanaya.’ 

Punishing the guilty: What about the big guns? 

And on to the stage came ‘Wele Suda’, now condemned to rot behind bars. I have no idea of what he is guilty of and I have no clue about these punishments. But I read he was sentenced in guilt to set an example to others that the long arm of the law would always deliver justice. Great concept, but let it be for everyone and not only for Wele Suda and a few like him who may be guilty and needs to be punished. 

What about the big guns? The cleansing should start from across the Diyawanna Oya. Until a day dawns where such is possible, where offending power houses are brought to justice and judged according to the law of the land, we will be nothing but a replica of a banana republic sliding down a slippery slope to oblivion.

Of course, we must also remember that two heavy-weight Humpty Dumpties did fall-off the Parliament wall! One for not knowing what rent he paid and the other for doing an ‘et tu Brute’ for a harbour deal. It went contrary to the nursery rhyme as all the King’s Men were there in all colours to tinker them and put them together again. 

If anyone thought they were given ‘out’ by the umpires, they sure have another thought coming. The retirement is temporary and crowd-pleasing, they are sure to come back to bat again. Even a dullard like me can figure that out. Then we must admit that we sure are bowling without umpires again.

One saving grace I see in the distant horizon is the awakening of civic right groups that make some objections against the all-powerful political leadership. There has to be a voice of protest, however faint, lest we all suffer in a perpetual quagmire of ‘hora umpiring’ (sorry, I am not sure whether ‘perpetual’ is a politically correct word in this day and age of one sided matches). 

Yes, back to civil rights groups, that is the only silver line in the dark clouds that roll out of Diyawanna Oya. There are honourable people who stand-up in defiance against the cancerous political calamity. There are people in the judiciary, in the media and the forces plus irritated battalions of the ordinary ‘you and me’ of all races and all faiths who feel cheated by the injustice and cry out for a change. 

Time for change! Change to what?

Yes, we do need a change! But change to what?

The presidential elections are not far away. Who knows who the next umpire is going to be? The war ended in Nandikaddal in 2009. We all hoped for better dawns but they came wrapped in multi-coloured cellophane of corruption. Then the ‘man on the street’ voted in disgust and managed to change the team. 

Yes, there were progressive steps, plus promises that were fulfilled. One cannot deny that. It was then that the leg umpire vehemently voiced a questionable ‘not out’ to 007. Thank God, the head umpire disagreed and sent it upstairs and they are still deliberating whether it is out or not out.

Such is our lot today. We have a country that has peace, a God gifted country if ever there was one. People are intelligent and we are more than capable of a road-map that could take us to stability and prosperity. The problem is we need good and fair umpires.

It was a simple village soldier, Hasalaka Weeraya, who took a grenade and attacked a battle tank and gave his life to save his country. Many others did the same, some crippled, some maimed and some lost their lives for the motherland. 

I wonder what they would say if they were aware that after all their sacrifices made in the name of Sri Lanka, we are politically still bowling without umpires. 

(The writer can be reached via Elmojay1@gmail.com.)

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