Cricketing lessons!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015 00:31 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Comparisons between politics and cricket are almost always not positive ones. Despite cricket starting out as a “gentleman’s game,” politics has never been identified as a gentleman’s trade and is likely never to make the cut. But both politics and cricket can learn lessons from each other.

During the recent T20 match captain Lasith Malinga came under fire for both his poor performance and allegedly supporting the pick of untested players. He staunchly defended the decision insisting it was the duty of a captain to blood new players and groom them for the future without safeguarding only himself. While many would criticise the loss some fans might empathise with Malinga’s decision. Many others would also applaud his courage in risking his own reputation so that the future of the game would thrive in this cricket loving nation.



Still many more would respect his candid acceptance of his personal poor performance and his philosophical stance that like he replaced a former player in the fullness of time he too will meet the same fate. This gradual passing of the mantel is something politicians of all hues in Sri Lanka need to understand. No matter how high they rise, whether it is president or prime minister, the time comes for them to leave and it is essential that they understand this simple fact of life.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is perhaps the best example of this refusal to accept reality. Having been ousted from power by a 400,000 vote margin between him and his rival President Maithripala Sirisena, seven months down the line he is staging a contentious comeback bid. Rajapaksa’s return to politics is done by promoting hate speech and deepening sensitive ethnic divides that is threatening to polarise parliament even more drastically. Doggedly sticking to a mantra of national security, he does not understand that his very return could undermine rights of minorities in Sri Lanka for decades to come.  

The United National Party (UNP) led by Ranil Wickremesinghe came to power on promises of good governance and as such his party’s conduct will be judged to a higher benchmark than his predecessor. Few governments have had to prove themselves in such a short period of time but the UNP has not made matters easer by fomenting the controversial bond issue.



However, the people must have their say and in two weeks they will. Once that is done politicians must listen and like Malinga establish a confident second rung leadership that will take the party and country forward without putting all the emphasis on their staying power. Regardless of the outcome on 17 August most of the top leadership of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and UNP are on the wrong side of 65 and have to start grooming honest, responsible and professional politicians to take their turn come 2020 elections. This is especially important given that President Sirisena has assured he will only serve one term, throwing open both the presidency and Parliament five years from now.

Of course for many that is too far too soon. First is the battle of the moment but when the people vote a fortnight from now it is hoped the rejected politicians will take a leaf out of the gentleman’s game and, dare we hope, leave as gentleman should.