26 March 2016

Did Sarath Fonseka say "Move over Sir Gary Sobers!"?

Sarath Fonseka has come a long way.  He was hero once, and no one, not even his most vociferous critics can dismiss as irrelevant or peripheral the role he played in defeating the LTTE.  

He was treated harshly by the Rajapaksas, this everyone knows.  His abysmal understanding of things political and shameless submission to pro-separatist and anti-Sri Lanka camps notwithstanding, the humiliation he was subjected to was absolutely unacceptable.  Whether he deserves the rank of Field Marshall is another matter.  The illegality of him contesting an election while being Field Marshall doesn't cover either him or those who voted for him with glory.  The fact that this man, defeated in 2010 and in 2015 was smuggled into Parliament through the backdoor makes things worse.  

One can't blame Fonseka for hitting out at the Rajapaksas at every turn for reasons alluded to above. However his claim that he alone won the war is downright stupid.  If he has read the Constitution and the powers vested in the office of the President, he would understand the logic of blaming Mahinda Rajapaksa for all the wrongs during his tenure (just as much Rajapaksas predecessors are blamed for the relevant crimes of omission and commission).  By the same token, it would be laughable not to credit Rajapaksa for the victories secured between 2005 and 2015.  

Anyway, Fonseka is today a minister and he's entitled to return-belittling of his enemy by way of dismissing him (Rajapaksa) as a mere Member of Parliament, never mind the fact that Rajapaksa was elected and Fonseka was not, but had to wriggle through the backdoor of Sirikotha.  It is unlikely that Fonseka will learn humility any time soon.  The man is arrogant.  And has he changed over the last six years or so?  I described his mindset (drawing from his claims) in December 2009 in an article for the now defunct ‘Sunday Lakbiama News’.  It was a light piece of course, but perhaps it is useful for those who are interested in Sarath Fonseka (for whatever reason) and his political journey.

I grew up learning that Gary Sobers was the most versatile all-rounder ever to play the noble game of cricket. Back then there was no internet, no `cricinfo` or other websites where stats could be accessed with a few clicks. There was comment in the sports pages and frequent reference to his exploits. 

Gary Sobers scored 8032 runs in 93 Tests, at an average of 57.78 and a highest score of 365 not out (a world record that stood for several decades). He scored 26 centuries and 30 half-centuries. He took 235 wickets at an average of 34.03 and an economy rate of 2.22. 
Ask any schoolboy cricket fan today and he will quickly name half a dozen players who performed better than Sobers with the bat and another half a dozen who took more wickets, had a better strike rate etc. They would be hard pressed however to come up with a name associated with all aspects of the game. He had power and elegance when he wielded the bat. And it is said that he would have made the West Indies Test XI for his bowling alone. Seldom has such versatility found residence in a single individual Gary Sobers bowled two styles of spin - left-arm orthodox and wrist spin, and was also an effective fast-medium opening bowler. He is described as a brilliant fielder in any position but was peerless when fielding close to the wicket.

It is not too difficult for someone to have some basic skills in a lot of things. Most schoolboys can bat, bowl, keep wickets, umpire and keep the score. A genius however must excel in many aspects to the point that he stands among the greatest in each discipline. Hard to beat Sobers for versatility.

Ah, but one man does. He has put Sir Gary to shame. Not only can he bat, bowl (fast, fast-medium, off-spin, leg-break and all the subtle variations in spin bowling including all the mystery balls), keep wickets and field in any position, he can umpire too. He is a top notch match referee, a qualified coach, a physiotherapist, astute selector, efficient administrator, meticulous scorer, fluent commentator and one of the most enthusiastic water-boys to boot. He is a one-man army, in fact.

Sarath Fonseka, if we were to believe the man, is a do-it-all-by-myself person. From 2005 December, (when he was appointed Army Commander) and 2009 May, (when Prabhakaran was killed), this man single-handedly fought the LTTE. He tracked down the LTTE`s floating warehouses all the way to the Australian territorial waters and destroyed them.

He got into a fighter plane and precision-targetted S P Thamilselvan. He also made sure that the ordinary citizens support the war effort by managing the economy, designing monetary policy and implementing all kinds of measures to keep inflation at manageable levels, ensuring there were adequate stocks of essential items, and by negotiating foreign investment and loans. Sensing that the troop morale might be compromised by the ill-willed uttering of people of Mangala Samaraweera,Ranil Wickremesinghe, Ravi Karunanayake and others, he took them on publicly, countered them, ridiculed them and shut them up. 

He was also the country's greatest diplomat ever. When Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Channel 4 News, BBC and various other organizations and individuals pandering to the LTTE began bad-mouthing Sri Lanka and the war effort, Sarath Fonseka took them on at every international forum and shut them up. 

I have to stand back in awe at this man. I am mesmerized when he speaks for all I hear are three words: I, myself and me. Did we defeat the LTTE? No! It was all Sarath Fonseka`s work, please get that right. It was war by Sarath Fonseka, with Sarath Fonseka and for Sarath Fonseka. It was Sarath vs the rest of the world. If executing a war was a cricket match, this is how the operation to defeat terrorism would be described: 

Sarath Fonseka, bowling from the Sarath Fonseka Pavilion end, passes Umpire Sarath Fonseka to bowl to Sarath Fonseka. Sarath Fonseka takes it on the half-volley and drives it past a diving Sarath Fonseka fielding at Cover Point. Sarath Fonseke runs across from wide mid-off to stop the ball inches before it reaches the boundary, collects and sends in a perfect return to Wicket Keeper Sarath Fonseka who whips the bails off. It is a close call and Leg Umpire Sarath Fonseka refers the matter to third umpire Sarath Fonseka who declares that Sarath Fonseka has just made his ground. This leads to words being exchanged between Wicket Keeper Sarath Fonseka and Sarath Fonseka the batsman. Fisticuffs ensure and play is held up and Match Referee Sarath Fonseka is called on to arbitrate.

Get the drift? Gary Sobers, the world`s most versatile cricketer? Nope. It`s Sarath Fonseka.

Only one thing remains. Knighthood. Sir Sarath Fonseka. Want to know who is going to knight him? Queen Sarath Fonseka, of course! 



piyasiri pelenda said...

Hi Malinda
Generalissimo is better title. Ranil can offer it to him. Fonseka can be proud of his title an Yousif Stalin and D.Franco also had this. It is one above Field Marshal.So no one can joke about him as Wel Vidane.