CRICKET: Today, We Are ALL SRI LANKAN

When I first agreed to delve in to the World Cup for the mutiny, I did so because I knew it was important to South Asia, our diaspora and several cute commenters here…but I had no idea how powerful the sport truly is, until now.
Go Sri Lanka.JPG Apparently cricket can do what diplomacy, prayers and tears cannot (all quotes via Reuters, Thanks Karthik):

Cricket fever has gripped Sri Lanka after their team secured a place in the World Cup final, diverting attention — at least for the time being — from a worsening civil war.
Cricket-mad fans sat glued to their television sets until the early hours of Wednesday morning to watch Sri Lanka defeat New Zealand by 81 runs in Jamaica.
The success of the cricket team in the Caribbean has provided a welcome distraction from the worsening military conflict between the government and Tamil Tigers, which has left a 2002 ceasefire agreement in tatters.
The two-decade civil war, which has claimed around 68,000 lives, has intensified in the past year with almost daily battles, denting business confidence and contributing to spiralling inflation.

One higher power, many paths; one fervently-desired wish, many prayers:

Multi-faith religious ceremonies are being planned in the lead-up to Saturday’s big game to bless the team, and President Mahinda Rajapaksa will even fly to Barbados for the final.

Yo, this is serious:

The Excise Department has even delayed the start of an alcohol sales ban for Buddhist Wesak holidays by one day. It will now come into effect after the World Cup final.

I got my hopes up…

Even many Tamil Tigers, who control swathes of land in the north and east of the country and are fighting for independence, are watching.
“There are people in the controlled areas watching,” rebel military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan said by telephone.

Then felt them sink, even though I’m not Sri Lankan, Tamil, or particularly conscious of this violent, on-going tragedy:

But he added: “Our activities will not change because of these matches. These matches are not going to make any difference.

I hope he’s full of it. I stupidly and naively hope that cricket really will do for Sri Lanka what nothing else has been able to– give diverse communities a reason to stop killing each other, at least for a little while. As far as I know, it’s difficult to cheer effectively if you’re holding a gun. Yes, that was paneer-laden…but I’m serious. In 1996, Sri Lanka destroyed Australia to win the World Cup; I hope they do so tomorrow, too. If ever there were a country which deserved some cheer…::

For an alternate take on the significance of Sri Lanka’s World Cup success, I’d recommend a post by kettikili over at Pass The Roti.

I, like Mandira Bedi, am not capable of this kind of commentary:

Likewise, today in Sri Lanka, cricket appreciation at its best is hailed as a force of national unity, a testament to the plural, multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, and multi-religious country we should aspire to be.
After all, our Murali is a Tamil, Sri Lankans, diasporic or not, are wont to say.
This is true. But is this enough? Can we simply rest on the laurels of the team? Sri Lankan cricket represents the ideal nation and its aspirations, not the realities of all its citizens. Sri Lankan cricket, in some sense, is what we hope to be. (I’m bracketing the gendering of that abstract model of citizenship– for now.)
But, as is all too evident now, cricket fanaticism at its worst serves as a distraction from the war, and a convenient way to suppress debate and dissent in favour of a superficial image of national unity.

The rest of the post is here.

252 thoughts on “CRICKET: Today, We Are ALL SRI LANKAN

  1. Shodan, :-D I reckon we will surge to 220 and peter out from c combination of exhaustion and McGrath.

  2. Sneha: No worries there, we have four long years of that ahead of us!

    I must say the crowd has been fantastic. So this is what cricket in the WIndies is like..

  3. {expletive][expletive] i have GOT to stop jinxing them, [expletive] Aussies.

    Wait, let me try again: we are going to stun the world and smash our way to 269 with two balls and one wicket to spare!

  4. The Cricket Gods are not fooled.

    Well, the sun has risen, i think i might catch forty winks, i don’t think i can handle the awards ceremony and we have at least 72 hours straight of blanket Aussie smugness to put up with.

    Well played Shodan, and all.

    [sigh]

  5. From Cricinfo.

    30.6 Clarke to Vaas, no run, “Oh yes, Clarkey!” cries Gilchrist as the batsman is tucked up yet again, Clarkey no doubt whispering a bedtime story of goodnight while he’s at it

    Are these guys smoking some stuff or is this Siddhu typing?

  6. what?? they cut to an ad and when it came back, Australia has won , but how come? SL is still 206-7. Did SL Concede ?

  7. We better not have conceded! grinds teeth Screw you McGrath! [expletives]

    Shankar: Nevah!

  8. Me: So, do you want to add anything, Mr Optimistic? MO: …Nothing.

    2 minutes later, MO: Australia is a great team and they deserve to win. Once an optimist, always an optimist eh?

    But is it really over?

  9. Its a circus out there.. Aussies are celebrating, the scoreboard reads “congratulations australia”, ground staff tried to set up the “presentation props” , but the umpires have sent them back. They seem to indicate that the game is NOT OVER YET, in theory, Sri Lanka can come back tomorrow morning and play the 3 overs. oh uh… now the batsmen are coming back .. they will play the remainder game in bad light.. just so they can get it over with.

  10. I can’t believe they had a final in a ground without lights. Now they’re claiming a stumping – the cameras can’t even focus tigh it’s so dark. Malcolm Speed shoud be hung drawn and quartered (figuratively, of course)..

  11. the umpire’s are trying to get the stumps back from the lads. this aint no way to win or lose a final. what a messed up day.

  12. Yes ANNA —- thanks for all your great posts and the time you put in to host our World Cup drama! xXx

  13. Gilchrist won this match for Australia. Winning the toss also gave the aussies an advantage. Sri Lanka would have batted first if it had won the toss.

    Congratulations to Australia for the three-peat.

  14. “Even the moon has gone behind a cloud. It’s so dark that the television cameras can’t focus on the pitch.” how can these be the last words of a world cup final…

  15. World Cup finals are becoming really bizarre aren’t they. Headbutt of ’06 and now this.

    “It’s over!”

    “Wait, no it’s not.”

    “It isn’t? But I can’t see…you…or me.”

    “You’re right, it’s over.”

    “Lemme bowl once more, k?”

    “OK, couple more.”

    “Nah, actually you won.”

    “I did?”

    “I dunno. Where are you?”

  16. Prema, your comments do Tom Moody a great disservice. Before he took over, Sri Lanka looked like a side in decline. He’s helped revitalise senior figures such as Jayasuria, and allowed younger talents such as Malinga and Tharanga to flourish. He’s taken the team to the World Cup final on the back of some fantastic performances; it took a dominant Australian team to beat them. Your attempts to somehow cleanse Dav Whatmore of his Australian identity are crude to say the least.

    Being the product of a gora system does not make him a gora does it?

    You’re basing your argument on a simple question of race rather than cultural identity. It doesn’t matter what a coach does; they just have to pass the non-gora test in your opinion. I could cite John Wright along with Whatmore and Dav Whatmore as foreign coaches who have had success with subcontinent teams; but, no doubt, you’d suggest he was actually from Calcutta instead of Canterbury.

  17. I could cite John Wright along with Whatmore and Dav Whatmore as foreign coaches who have had success with subcontinent teams I thought John Wright did a fantastic job as the coach of India.

    Compare India’s performance in the previous World Cup versus this one. The big problem for India (as well as Pakistan) has been that they have always had a lot of individual talent, but the skills of the different team members have been so diverse that it has been hard to form them into a cohesive unit. The Australians, on the other hand, have used a more scientific/statistical approach to the game. The current Australian team is just a machine with hardly any easily exploitable flaws. I thought what John Wright did was to steer a course between these extremes, and this I think is a pretty difficult task, but achieving that was part of the reason why the team under Ganguly was so successful with a fighting chance at the world title.

  18. My dearest Indian cricket team please try to learn cricket from Sri Lankan team. Close all your side businesses first like restaurants/advertisements etc…and concentrate on the game. If you start learning from today you can probably think of reaching atleast final four in next world cup! God bless Indian team RIP!

  19. well, as i said to the ozzie in the bar, i do not like your team cos they win, they win all the time, to borrow a phrase from Jose marineho, when they lose they will become my favourite team, when they win, i hate them.

    R-E-S-P-E-C-T to flygirl and red snapper, from start to finish.

    Thank you to anna, cricket lovers, to all.

  20. The Australians, on the other hand, have used a more scientific/statistical approach to the game. The current Australian team is just a machine with hardly any easily exploitable flaws.

    Most of the Australian sportpersons go through intensive training at Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) as children where they have a focused professional approach to sport early in life. While most sportspersons in the subcontinet come through individual efforts against similar competitors. So you hardly have a replacement for Sachin Tendulkar or Wasim Akram.

  21. Most of the Australian sportpersons go through intensive training at Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) as children where they have a focused professional approach to sport early in life. While most sportspersons in the subcontinet come through individual efforts against similar competitors. So you hardly have a replacement for Sachin Tendulkar or Wasim Akram.

    Well that and the fact that most teams in the sub-continent are run by politicians and are filled using a quota system. If not the root cause, I personally believe that it has a lot to do with the current state of teams.

  22. Your attempts to somehow cleanse Dav Whatmore of his Australian identity are crude to say the least.

    Its the other way round pal: Your attempts to somehow cleanse Dav Whatmore of his Sri Lankan identity are crude to say the least. He was born in Sri Lanka and he looks like this:

    http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/ci/content/player/8210.html

    Your insistence that he was a foreigner to sri lankans is laughable. As was your attempt to exonerate the aussie cricket team from the charge of racism towards Indians by giving the example of Brett Lee singing a duet with Asha Bhosle! Its pretty obvious where your sympathies lie.

  23. Today, we are all Sri Lankan

    Damn, some Sri Lankans bit it hard. That’s gotta hurt ;)

  24. We all knew that it was going to be difficult but fate, the weather and logistics (can someone explain the lack of good lighting a in a cricket stadium where the World Cup is being played to me? Because honestly what kind of morons don’t consider the fact that a match might start late and go on for longer than daylight could last?) conspired against the Lankan team who played exceptionally well. We’re really proud of them for getting us this far and putting up a great fight against Australia. We all know in our hearts that the little things like the weather, the lighting, maybe even not starting the match on time could’ve made the hugest difference i.e. we could have been holding that trophy for the next four years. Regardless – the Sri Lankan team was awesome and kudos to them for battling it out until he very end. Many very loud cheers! And congrats to the Australians for their magnificent victtory! You were the better team!

  25. But guess what else happened, the Tamil Tigers went against their claim of keeping a ceasefire during the World Cup finals and attacked Colombo. What kind of people would pull something as awful as that on what was the biggest night in Sri Lanka when we all came together to support the home team? Not being at home and knowing exactly what went down makes it worse. I’ve been trying to keep track through news sources but they don’t always paint the clearest picture. One article gives some pretty decent info and a good pic going onto say that now Colombo will be subjected to blackouts by the order of the Defense Ministry at a moment’s notice to curb any future aerial attacks by the LTTE.

    What I’ve gathered so far is that it was the LTTE’s dastardly intention to attack the fuel installations in Kolonnawa and Muthurajawela causing damage to the works and several deaths and injuries. This was I believe the third incident following the enforcement of blackouts and the closure of the International airport on Thursday and the bombing of an army engineering unit in the North. Some self-righteous dolt had made a statement on Tamilnet saying that the pilots returned safely from a successful mission – what the heck I ask? Success in doing what? Making life difficult for everyone in the capital for a few days Sinhalese and Tamil? Success in making clear that the LTTE are a bunch of cretins with a warped saviour complex pretending to fight for the people who they have no qualms about dragging into training as suicide bombers and child soldiers? What kind of twisted sense of accomplishment is that? Liberators fight for the people not against them – because bombs, guns, missiles, fighter planes cannot discriminate – they cannot tell how many people waiting at the bus stand or working in a building on any given day are Tamil or Sinhalese. Absolutely dishonourable, reprehensible and low cretins with no respect for lives or the country they tell themselves they are fighting for. I remember the last Kolonnawa bombing many years ago – watching the flames go up from across the then wela where Water’s Edge is today and sadly the ridiculousness and disregard for human life and property still hasn’t ended. The war rages on under a blanket of hypocrisy.

    Last night all us Sri Lankans both at home and away came together to support the home team and suffered the contemptible brunt of cowardice of “freedom fighters” as they call themselves, who tell anyone who will listen that they are fighting for a cause and fighting for the nation. To the LTTE and its supporters, you are only careless despots in the making because no one who loved their homeland would resort to such a despicable, depraved act on night that was so important to everyone in the country regardless of ethnicity, religion or race. Before you try to “liberate” the nation, liberate yourselves from the hypocrisy and lies that you’re living because you’re not fighting for the cause of a nation, you are only fighting for grudging vengeance and your sinful selves.

  26. Prema, I’m going to address several issues. Firstly, I have at no point asserted that Dav Whatmore has no typically Sri Lankan racial heritage. However, I have say that racial heritage does not equate to nationality; for example, you don’t have to be Anglo-Saxon to be English. Dav has played cricket for Australia and has Aussie citizenship; to ignore that is to ignore a significant part of his makeup. What makes Whatmore so interesting is the way he’s successfully negotiated between the cultures of Australia and Sri Lanka (something that is significant for many of us on Sepia Mutiny). To reduce him and others to simple racial characteristics is dehumanising. We are more than just our blood. To have a go at all gora (“white”) coaches just for being white is racism – pure and simple. I would object just as much if you denigrated black, Chinese or any other peoples in such a manner. Secondly, this:

    As was your attempt to exonerate the aussie cricket team from the charge of racism towards Indians by giving the example of Brett Lee singing a duet with Asha Bhosle!

    Please don’t take me out of context. Firstly, the Brett Lee comment was supposed to be jocular. Secondly, what I wrote was preceded by a recognition of a past example of racist behaviour by an Australian player; in considering both these examples (and Steve Waugh’s charity work in India) I was endeavouring to show both sides of the coin. To say that all Aussie cricketers are racist is just as bad as saying all Pakistanis are terrorists or all Indians are effigy-burning fanatics. Thirdly, this:

    Its pretty obvious where your sympathies lie.

    Please don’t try to implicate me as some Uncle Tom figure; it suggests that you’re attacking me as a person rather than my arguments. But I would say this: I do know where my sympathies are, and I know that they are opposed to negative generalisations of people on racial grounds. You, on the other hand, seem to have a problem with that.

  27. To reduce him and others to simple racial characteristics is dehumanising. We are more than just our blood. To have a go at all gora (“white”) coaches just for being white is racism – pure and simple.

    Well said Taj, needed to be said. Prema has form — he / she decided to make racist generalisations of Koreans in the aftermath of the recent shootings in America.

  28. I have at no point asserted that Dav Whatmore has no typically Sri Lankan racial heritage.

    You are being dishonest. Here’s what you wrote:

    I could cite John Wright along with Whatmore and Dav Whatmore as foreign coaches who have had success with subcontinent teams; but, no doubt, you’d suggest he was actually from Calcutta instead of Canterbury.

    You pretty much cleansed Whatmore of his Sri Lankan identity and made him a foreigner to his own people and to the land of his birth.

    We are more than just our blood. To have a go at all gora (“white”) coaches just for being white is racism – pure and simple.

    Firstly, I was having a go at the desi fad of hiring white coaches. Secondly, if you really were anti-racist you too would be having a go at the aussies, who are notorious for their racism. Instead you are defending them passionately.

    By the way, I also regularly have a go at indian casteism, which is more vile and offensive than aussie racism. Whats your stand on that issue? Will you come up with exceptions here as well to deny that its a problem?

    I would object just as much if you denigrated black, Chinese or any other peoples in such a manner.

    But you are showing scant objection to the far greater denigration of desis by aussies. Instead you are busy showing the “other side of the coin” with silly examples like Brett Lee singing a duet with Asha Bhosle. I am denigrating racists and you are defending them.

    the Brett Lee comment was supposed to be jocular

    Sure doesn’t read that way.

    Steve Waugh’s charity work in India

    Using that as an exoneration of aussie racism towards desis is as dishonest and dumb as using the charity work done by Schweitzer in Africa to exonerate white racism towards africans.

    Please don’t try to implicate me as some Uncle Tom figure

    Your posts implicate you. Desis are easy pushovers and easily divided because of such an attitude, which happens to be quite common.

    I do know where my sympathies are, and I know that they are opposed to negative generalisations of people on racial grounds.

    Aussies go around calling Indians “niggers” and being incredibly rude to the locals even when guests in India. That goes beyond just “negative generalisations of people on racial grounds”. When I point out aussie racism you come to their defense and call me a racist!

    There are truths in generalizations and stereotypes. Indians are casteist; Aussies are racist. Exceptions prove the rule. You are more concerned with providing exceptions to deny aussie racism than in objecting to their denigration of your fellow desis. That shows where your sympathies lie.

  29. Prema, it’s clear that you have no desire to engage with my argument; you’re merely reiterating your own beliefs blindly. You are also hypocritical in your approach to racism; racism by Australians is considered bad, but your own prejudices are allowed to go unchecked. Given the advice on feeding trolls on this site, I’m going to bow out. However, before I go, here are some dictionary definitions:

    Racism n.
    1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. 2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/racism%20

    Stereotype n.
    1. A conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image. 2. One that is regarded as embodying or conforming to a set image or type. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/stereotype

    Now, consider them in relation to some of the things you’ve written, and see if you can gain a little self-knowledge:

    if you really were anti-racist you too would be having a go at the aussies, who are notorious for their racism
    Desis are easy pushovers and easily divided because of such an attitude, which happens to be quite common.
    There are truths in generalizations and stereotypes. Indians are casteist; Aussies are racist. Exceptions prove the rule.
  30. Prema, You can move the goalposts of debate and quote people out of context all you want. Here’s your basic argument most of us find repellant.

    The one good thing that could come out of this perhaps is the realization that the fad of gora coaches for desi teams has run its course. Sri Lanka’s coach is an aussie. Talk about divided loyalties. Pakistan and India, also coached by goras, were humiliated in this World Cup. Bangladesh on the other hand, with a Sri Lankan coach, enjoyed two major upset wins. All the World Cup Championships won by desi teams have been under desi coaches.

    It’s the ability of the coach — not his skin colour that matters. Hate is hate. Just because it’s directed against white people doesn’t make it any better.

  31. [groan] Well, the pain is really hitting me now whereas on Sunday I was just resigned.

    Has anyone found any good writing on the match and some appropriately histrionic hindsight anywhere other than Cricinfo?

    TajUK and Shodan, thank you for your posts, and particularly your responses to an idiotic proposition.

  32. It’s the ability of the coach — not his skin colour that matters.

    Tell that to the desi lemmings who have fallen for the fad of hiring white coaches.

    Hate is hate. Just because it’s directed against white people doesn’t make it any better.

    Truly pathetic and twisted. Criticizing the fad of hiring foreign white coaches on the basis of their sorry performance in World Cups, and pointing out the obnoxious racism of aussies, is hate in your’s and Taj’s eyes, but this is not:

    http://sport.guardian.co.uk/cricket/story/0,10069,878108,00.html

    “The Darren Lehmann case has exposed a double standard in the Australian cricket community.”

    “Team-mates and associates have described Lehmann’s slur as an “out of character” act, committed “in the heat of the moment” by someone who is “universally regarded as a nice guy”. Instead it is the Sri Lankans who are rendered villains, oversensitive and unmanly to complain.”

    “To believe this was the first time Lehmann used this terrible language about black people is to show the indulgence of a parent who believes their teenager’s “it was my first joint” defence.

    Lehmann’s misfortune is that he is the man who got caught revealing the unwitting racism that infuses not only Australian cricketing culture but mainstream Australia.

    Lehmann’s supporters cannot understand the difference between calling someone a “cunt” and a “black cunt”. Nor, presumably, can they understand that it is offensive for our media commentators to speak of the Sri Lankans as “babbling” in the field, as “leaping about with great big smiles” or as “little guys”. Monkeys babble. Little black sambos have great big smiles.”

    “Three years ago, when India toured Australia, I interviewed Indian-Australians who were supporting India……a more pungent reason for those Indian flags at the Sydney Cricket Ground was that fathers resented the exclusion of their sons from local and school teams. Every family I interviewed had a story of a boy who had been shut out of the “in” group because of his race, or his teetotalism, or some other cultural difference.”

    “Rather than shame, our cricket community tends to feel pride in this ethnic wholeness…..While English sporting clubs struggle to harmonise different cultures, Australian clubs fix the problem by leaving non-whites out.”

    On a tour to India, I heard two Australian cricketers call the locals “niggers”. I saw Australian cricketers coming across Indians sleeping on a railway platformin Jamshedpur and nudging them awake with their feet in order to take a happy snap.