Of Freedom of Speech and More

Published: Friday, July 8, 2011, 11:40 [IST]
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Of Freedom of Speech and More

London, July 8: Kumar Sangakkara has always been Sri Lanka Cricket"s erudite one. The one who could charm the birds off a tree with his demeanour and basic vocal finesse. So it really comes as no surprise that at the annual Cowdrey lecture at Lord's he wowed his audience with 1 hour and 2 minutes of an impassioned speech that covered a wide array of subjects.

In this day and age where news travels fastest, the internet was full of praise for the southpaw and his speech. The websites waxed eloquent about how well Sangakkara spoke and with such alacrity. Within an hour his entire speech could be heard and if one had the patience it made for interesting listening.

In the stiff upper lip capital of the cricketing world , Lord"s Sangakkara spoke on a variety of subjects. From the history of Sri Lanka, to how Cricket arrived in his country. To the renaissance period with the charismatic Arjuna Ranatunga, the 1996 World cup and its repercussions both good and bad. A recounting of the horrendous terror attack on the team bus in Pakistan, to the much debated and controversial attack on the politics in Sri Lankan Cricket today. He ended his talk with a positive outlook and a general celebration of the team that is present today. The flavour of his speech was rich with philosophy and patriotism peppered with certain angst within that was waiting for release. The ending reflected the tone and screamed of his love for the game and his country.

“My loyalty will be to the ordinary Sri Lankan fan, their 20 million hearts beating collectively as one to our island rhythm and filled with an undying and ever-loyal love for this our game. Fans of different races, castes, ethnicities and religions who together celebrate their diversity by uniting for a common national cause. They are my foundation, they are my family. I will play my cricket for them."

All along Kumar Sangakkara would have been well aware of the response that he would get to the impassioned discourse. The members of the MCC applauded his views, his values, his clear cut expression of what was right and wrong. But his government back home and the powers that be in the Sri Lankan cricket administration were far from amused. This was bound to happen. And the one who knew this best was Sangakkara himself.

As was expected the sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has ordered the new Sri Lanka Cricket chairman Upali Dharmadasa to investigate and submit a report on Sangakkara. Perhaps somewhere the politician may have thought of looking within to clean the system, but then again that"s expecting the unreal to happen. He did however commend Sangakkara on a 'good speech" but wished that he had not spoken on the cricket administration while he was still under contract.

Sangakkara knows that he will have to answer questions but he also knows too well that he has won a lot of admirers in the Mecca of cricket and thereabouts. Whether this matters more, or the fact that he may have to face the wrath of some rather incensed cricket administrators is something only he can answer.

In the meanwhile outside the realms of Lord"s there has been a flush of statements made by those who follow cricket ( one can only imagine how large that number is) on platforms such as facebook and twitter. Suddenly everyone has a voice. And Kumar Sangakkara has become an icon of great speech.

For those of us who have met and worked with the man, as I mentioned at the top of this article, 'Sanga" seen as a glib talker was never going to be a surprise. On a more personal note how and why and what has made him a changed man is another subject all together. For now he has the freedom of speech and in the one hour and 2 minutes he proved just that. But remember, freedom comes with a price. Just how heavy this price will be for Sangakkara remains to be seen.

Trishna Bose,
Columnist, Oneindia Cricket

Read more about: kumar sangakkara, mcc, slc, sri lanka
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