08 December 2020

Ranjan Madugalle’s notes on journeys


Ranjan Madugalle doesn’t give interviews. That’s a contractual bind with the ICC he can do nothing about. His work speaks for him, it could be argued. He ought to write a biography and I am sure it would be of immense value to cricket lovers and the game itself.  

Ranjan is not all silence with smiles and nods though. There are times he speaks. And sometimes people take notes or, in this case, transcribe.

What is the legacy he would like to leave behind, he was once asked. This is what he said:

‘I look at it in the form of having done my job to the best of my ability. In that process if I have left the game better, I will sleep well. I will always look at it as an absolute privilege to be part of a great game, first as a spectator, secondly as a player, for five years as a national selector, then for a short period as a commentator, and quite a bit as a referee. I think I have been lucky to see the game evolve from the 1970s till now. In the process, I have made friends on and off the field, which I value and treasure.’

It reminds one of the oft-quoted oath taken by the young men of Athens which, Ranjan would remember, was always inserted into the Big Match souvenir of his school. All five years he played for Royal, in the years before and probably to this day. 

The ephebic oath, written in the mid fourth century BC and preserved on an inscription from Acharnae, was taken by young Athenians upon induction into the military academy, the Ephebic College, graduation from which was a precondition for being granted citizenship. So much for ‘democracy’ and ‘equality’ in the much celebrated Grecian City!  Not our concern here.

The oath contains the following line: ‘My native land I will not leave a diminished heritage but greater and better than when I received it.’

Ranjan is all Sri Lankan and all Global Citizen or at least Citizen of the Cricketing Universe. Cricket is a country and one which he has graced with his presence, his heart and most importantly a mind of absolute clarity. Underlined with integrity. He has curated this garden well and if it has bloomed or at least survived bludgeoning at the hands of the vile, much of the credit should go to him. If he were to depart today, he would no doubt sleep well.

The transcriber also caught some advice he had offered youngsters. There were four lines. We will talk about the first: ‘No journey is a joy ride. No journey is planned. No journey is structured the way you want.’

Let’s break it down.

It’s never a case of easy-peasy. Never a piece of cake. Never plain sailing. There are rough seas. There are undercurrents. There are storms. There can even be torpedoes. Mutiny, too. So, Ranjan seems to be saying, ‘retire illusions, young man!’ In other words, be ready for setbacks. Be ready to change course. He doesn’t say ‘give up.’  The journey teaches. Destinations should be kept in sight.

No journey is planned. Well, what he probably meant was that things don’t always pan out as expected. It’s not a bad thing to have a plan, but don’t expect things to follow the script in your hand. Doesn’t happen that way.

The structure of the journey. You make your journey but not in the circumstances of your choice. This doesn’t mean that you have no say in the matter. The structures set the parameters of the possible, but human history has shown that these limits are not cast in stone. They are altered by effort. Determination. Love. Commitment. They get you where you planned to go and even beyond, regardless of constraints.  

Ranjan Madugalle. His life is his story and therein are lessons he need not spell out.

Other articles in the series titled 'The Interception' [published in 'The Morning']

Do you have a plan? Strengths and weaknesses It's all about partnerships


Dhanya Madugalle said...

Love this- thanks for capturing him so well!

Malinda Words said...

Dear Dhanya,

There's more:



and a few more to come! :)