Gentleman can succeed too

My Physical Training class in high school at St. Peter’s College, Colombo, purely consisted of Cricket. Although other options were available, with school facilities boasting of a swimming pool, Basketball court and a huge athletics field, students chose Cricket, and there were no exceptions to that. Such was the interest in the game at the time students would only want to play, or be taught cricket and nothing else.

One of the first coaching lessons I recall included a very thorough introduction to the game with constant and consistent reminders that Cricket is a game that boasts of high spirits and only taken up by gentlemen who can uphold the spirit of the game. Kudos to the PT tutor at the time for his efforts in trying to not only inculcate the spirit of the game to his students, but also for moulding us into players who boast of exemplary behaviour.

This is an admirable trait that carries fourth today in some of our oldest members in the current Lankan squad. Sanath jayasuriya is the shining example.

Jayasuriya will never be remembered for on field disciplinary incidents, sledging or any absurd volatile remarks. His performances have overshadowed the opposition’s verbal skills.

In my mind the term ’sledging’ requires thorough interpretation. Regardless of what’s said on the field, the intent behind sledging is what I question. To mentally bring down an individual by means of verbal abuse is not something we tolerate in today’s society. Why we allow it into a sport that boasts of a higher degree of spirit is baffling.

What vexes me the most is the fact that some of us have chosen to accept this unhealthy behaviour, not fully understanding it’s consequences.

Ice Hockey in North America is now more competitive fighting than a form of Hockey played on ice! The younger generation Toronto Maple Leaf’s fans are attracted to the sport due to the bashing involved.

Video - Hockey Fights (Viewer Discretion Advised)

Kevin Pietersen highlighted the remarkably well disciplined and well mannered Sri Lankan behaviour in a recent interview.

“Murali doesn’t say a lot, he just winds you up and winds you up because he knows he’s going to get you out,” Pietersen said. “He just smiles and laughs. He’s a really happy guy, a nice guy - I call him the silent assassin. He has so much talk on the cricket ball he doesn’t have to say much.”

As usual I leave you with a point to ponder on. How many International wickets do you think have fallen to intimidatory tactics than the skill of the bowler? It’s a compliment to one’s skills if he can bamboozle the batsmen with pace, swing, seam, drift or flight, or would you rather be remembered as the greatest trash talker of the game?

The Lankan’s are thorough gentlemen, humble and modest as their upbringing. They play the game with the right spirit and it has not gone unnoticed. Andy and Melissa share their story below,

“Mr. Vaas, my name is Andy Heger, and I’m a Sri Lanka cricket fan from the states …”

He looked at me. His face said, “Of course you are. What took you so long?” This guy has ice-water in his veins – he is totally unflappable. He took the picture. He even sort of smiled.

We were happy for our good fortune and getting ready to leave the hotel when a real commotion started by the door. This time it was Sanath Jayasuriya, the MVP of Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup-winning team. Needless to say, he is a legend of Sri Lankan cricket.

Bald, buff, lean and mean, Jayasuriya immediately reminded me of Marvin Hagler – he looks like a champion middleweight boxer.

“Mr. Jayasuriya, my name …”

He looked at me. His face said, “You can’t possibly be serious.” Still, he stopped and quickly took the picture – smiled even.

- Andrew Heger

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Thanks to Andrew and Melissa for the pictures - Sri Lanka’s All American Cheering Squad.

Find more of Andrew’s and Melissa’s photos and interesting encounters - http://spectacle-boat.com/

Originally published on April 14, 2007 on Lankancricket.com

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