22 April 2014

Farbrace’s crossover does not diminish but empowers

The resignation of Paul Farbrace, some say, has plunged Sri Lanka Cricket into crisis.  That’s interesting.  First of all there’s this question: when was Sri Lanka Cricket ever not in crisis?  Sri Lanka has enjoyed unbelievable success over the past two decades and one is compelled to say it is not because of the cricket authorities but in spite of them.  So if anyone is down in the mouth about Farbrace quitting, it’s time to get a grip, get real and turn those lips in the opposite direction.

Sure, the timing could have been better.  Farbrace is set to take up a coaching job with England’s cricket team which is about to host the very players the man was in charge of until a few days ago.  Someone might say ‘that’s not cricket’ but that someone must be totally oblivious to what ‘cricket’ has come to mean in recent years: bucks, contracts and careers.  Farbrace cannot be blamed for playing cricket the way it is being played all over the world. 

Sure, Sri Lanka enjoyed a dream run during his tenure, winning the Asia Cup and the World T20.  He must have contributed in some way, no one will deny that.  It was not a one-man show however, and not in the sense that some officials of Sri Lanka Cricket make that claim.  There was Marvan Atapattu, Chaminda Vaas and Ruwan Kalpage.  There were the selectors led by Sanath Jayasuriya who had to double up as peace-maker between players and officials on more than one occasion.  And there were the men who did battle out there in the middle even as they were being treated shabbily by the authorities.   All these ‘other’ pieces of the puzzle are intact including the officials (maybe they unintentionally spurred the players on, who knows?).  For these reasons, Farbrace’s leaving is not the end of the world and not the end of cricket in Sri Lanka.

Farbrace is gone.  He’s taken whatever ‘secrets’ he (and the England and Wales Cricket Board) believe would be useful for England as they take on Sri Lanka.  All that’s water under the bridge.  Happens.  Got to live with it.  It is not the ideal situation to have a general pledge allegiance to the enemy just before battle of course, but there’s precious little anyone can do about it. 

All that Sri Lanka can do about it is to remind themselves that the challenge got a bit stiffer.  More importantly, Matthews and his men call it what it is, an insult, and take strength from how Sri Lanka has responded to insult on previous occasions: with greater determination, greater focus and greater sense of team/collective.

First, there was 1996 and the deliberate, ill-willed and consorted attack on Muttiah Muralitharan.  Of course it would be erroneous to draw a straight line from the infamous ‘no-balling’ to the World Cup victory in Lahore a few months later, but few would deny that Arjuna Ranatunga’s team was not bowled over but rather found in the world fiasco a reservoir of strength to draw from at will. 

More recently Sri Lanka was insulted by India.  We saw this during IPL 2013 when Tamil Nadu politics spilled into the cricket grounds.  Sri Lankan players were no-balled and stumped even before they could step into the ground.  There was also the ‘Big Three Coup’ that amounted to short-changing other test-playing countries, including Sri Lanka.  The IPL, during this year’s auction, roundly snubbed Sri Lanka.  Then there’s the annual Geneva Circus which India uses as arm-twisting instrument to get Sri Lanka to toe the Indian line.  Like in the Australian case, one can draw a straight line from all this to the T20 World Cup final where Sri Lanka beat India.  The cricketers went about their business professionally.  However, if they needed an extra ounce or two of determination, there were ample stocks to draw from.  With respect to India.

It’s not about revenge, no.  It’s about thinking ‘Ok buddy, you’ve insulted us, that’s ok, but remember that it empowers rather than diminishes us’. 

There’s a lot to win in England and not just because of Paul Farbrace’s ‘crossover’ (should we call it 'crossback' I wonder) .  There’s also a man called David Cameron whose bad memory and worse knowledge of history makes him insult the intelligence of the world (Sri Lanka included) at every turn.  There all the loot robbed over a century and a half which no one in England want to return.  There’s genocide that no one in England dare talk about. 

Forget all that. 

It’s about cricket.  Get what inspiration you can but in the end, it’s down to the basics.  Playing to one’s strengths.  Giving one’s best to the team.  Serving one’s country with pride. Do that, and Paul Farbrace might squirm a little.  The important thing is not to play to make him squirm, but to come out with all guns firing.  If targets are achieved, don’t look at Paul.  If Paul looks your way, give him the Murali-Treatment.  Just smile.  That should suffice.

For now, just say ‘Thanks Paul, go well’.  


Anonymous said...

Yes, after protesting his affinity for Sri Lanka and all that, to walk away just before the England tour is rather unworthy and unashamedly unethical both by him and more so by the unprincipled ECB
the best riposte the Sri Lankan team could give is to go to England and perform well and put them to shame.
Go Sri Lanka Go !