06 April 2014

Dinesh Chandimal: Sporting Personality of the Year 2014

Greatness in sports is often measured in the number and margins of victory.  Domination of a discipline or a sport over a long period of time naturally wins accolades.  Sports, after all, is mostly about winning. And yet, not everything that stands out for standing ovation has to do with besting the opposition.  Sometimes it is rising to the occasion to the point that you rise above yourself and your self-interest.  This is why ‘The Nation’ picks Dinesh Chandimal as the Sporting Personality of the Year 2014.

On that day in Dhaka there couldn’t have been any Sri Lankan without a smile.  There couldn’t have been many Sri Lankans anywhere in the world following the World T-20 final who is did not smile at that particular moment when Sri Lanka defeated India to win ICC silverware after 18 long years.  The entire team had broad grins. The officials too. And yet, one smile was special.  It belonged to someone who didn’t take the field.  Dinesh Chandimal.

There was a report that Chandimal wept when he heard he was dropped for the Semi-Final against the West Indies (he had been docked for the game against New Zealand due to a slow over-rate).  We don’t know if this is true.  It is never a happy thing to be dropped.  It is probably worse not to be picked at all (ask Marvan Atapattu, he has booked the defining chapter on ‘The Book of Drops’ if and when it gets written).  It was not that Chandimal was not picked.

It was not that he was dropped (he could have, so we are told, insisted on playing and that would have been it). What is ‘special’ about it all is that he was the designated captain of the team that went on to win the Championship.  And he, the captain, was dropped!   ‘Devastating’ doesn’t quite describe what he probably would have felt.

The man was woefully out of form and as Lasitha Malinga’s short and successful ‘captaining’ experience showed, a team that already had four skippers (Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillekeratne Dilshan and Angelo Matthews) didn’t really have to worry about him being dropped.  As someone pointed out, there was the ‘National Captain’, Lasith Malinga, and there was the ‘Leadership Council’ made of the aforementioned skippers.  Mahela led the leaders, it was pretty obvious.

What is beautiful about it all is that it was an issue for everyone except for Sri Lankans.  It is hard to think that the press of any country would not have raised a lot of questions if a designated captain abdicated for all intents and purposes in favor of one the men he is supposed to be leading.  For Sri Lankans, apart from a few wry jokes, it was as it should be. Logical to the last letter.

Still.

Still there’s the small issue of a young man who had been appointed captain and had to lead players who had a dozen years’ worth of experience more than he did.  There’s the small issue of having left Sri Lanka as captain and having to watch the final from the dressing room.  There’s also the small issue of Dinesh Chandimal running around the ground after Sri Lanka won the match, carrying the man who put the final touches to the campaign on his shoulders.  Dinesh Chandimal helped hold Kumar Sangakkara high.  He couldn’t stop smiling a schoolboyish smile.  That delight was unadulterated. That admiration was unadulterated.  And in this, there was as much ‘team,’ ‘team-spirit,’ and ‘leadership’ than anything we were privileged to watch unfold out there in the middle of the ground.

There was courage on the part of the selectors, that unhappy, ready to be maligned tribe; for they dropped the captain. Had Sri Lanka lost, someone might have said ‘you can’t win a match after dropping the skipper’.  Someone else might have said, ‘why did you pick him in the first place?’  A third might say ‘were you crazy to make him captain?’  Sanath was bold. Chandimal was humble.


Now that’s a World Cup story right there.  In some strange, round-about way, therein lies a gene-fact of a team-corporeality that helped bring the World Cup to Sri Lanka.  We didn’t have a single stand-out player in this tournament (as opposed to the previous two editions).  We do best, perhaps, when we do it together.  Dinesh Chandimal did his part and did it well.  With utmost grace.  Take a bow, Chandimal
Reactions:

21 comments:

Priyanthi De Silva said...

Beautiful piece of writing, as usual! ��

Vishnu Vasu said...

Every Sri Lankan must read this piece. Beautiful writing Mali.

Keith Wijesuriya said...

Well said, Malinda. Now YOU take a bow!!

Roshan Wanigasekara said...

Totally we agreed and all Lankans should read this....

Roshan Wanigasekara said...

We totally agreed with you and all Sri Lankan should read this...

Anonymous said...

If we look at he bottom of the problem now its clear that the decision to give the captaincy to Chandimal was wrong. Over to selectors.

Anonymous said...

Some players are born as captains,Dinesh Chandimal is one of them.

Ru Freeman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ru Freeman said...

Such a great piece. Thanks for writing it.

zaman.alferoz7 said...

Totally agree with you..... Hats off the piece....

Anonymous said...

Somebody played 4 finals and didn't deliver and still want to play last one. Other person opted out his future becoze of his country and yet to people blame him. I can't believe these people.

Anonymous said...

yes hope the proesident of Sri Lanka drop himslef and his siblings and family from the team and hand it over to a young fresh outsider to lead the country and

Anonymous said...

I see a making of a man with story to tell . One day he will become kholi of sri lanka . Sri lanka is under rated always as does chandimal . If anyone who knows history knows chandimal is only not given chance at this world cup but in 2 worldcups when he was at his peak . Chandimal will one day win a worldcup for us with a story to tell .

Nadeesha Gamage said...

Great article well written

Janaka Ranchagoda said...

Form is temporary, and the class is permanent...
Totally agree with Malinda... Chandi's unselfishness, genuineness, appreciation of his mates success, and his childishness was apparent all throughout.
Reasons for his batting failure at the tournament was two fold. Firstly he was out of form, secondly he had to bat down the order, something that's not suited to his style of play. Since the retirement of 2 seniors, he now has the opportunity to bat further up and I'm sure that he'll be back to his brilliance self soon.
Good things happen to those who wait...

ejournalists said...

Great Article.Tks for writing it.

horizon said...

Beautiful....well written....with such assurance...the story of the 2014 hero....the story of a true lion....such humbleness,such honesty....epic cricketer...the future world cup winning captain of Sri Lanka....We salute you Chandi #respect you will be well loved and remembered in the years to come and we will walk by you,hail you and praise when you hold the precious world cup in your hands.....this story should be heard by all....such a tear filling,heart-warming story of a hero of our time....love you Chandi <3

Nirosh Perera said...

This may be a only first & one incident in the history.. True Gentleman.. Most of the players played for them not for the country.. See the difference of death bowling of Malinga.. Chandimal will play Greatest Aravinda's role in soon...

Anonymous said...

Well said..yes,one day Chandimal will win a world cup.And he has plenty of talent.Wish you all the very best for Chandi's career.

Anonymous said...

Chandimal is SriLanka's future. He is a role model for all young SriLankans. Averages 50 plus in tests and 30 plus in ODI's. He will not only win the country more World Cups, but give him a few more years and he will set the cricket world on fire. He is young man with tremendous character and knocks like this will only make him stronger.

Asela said...

Whether he was dropped or decided to step down....he continued to support his team and country. Not a single complaint came out from him. Thank you for being such a great role model to all players around the world.