Sri Lankan World Cup Stars off the Field | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Sri Lankan World Cup Stars off the Field

Listening to the many television cricket commentators on the 2019 World Cup in the home of cricket England and Wales, the writer makes bold to say that the most outstanding of the galaxy was Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara.

The International Cricket Council the organizers of the World Cup, who decides and picks on the TV commentators, had picked an outstanding array of illustrious commentators with all of them being excellent cricketers during their day.

Having been the first batsman to score a century when limited-over cricket was introduced to Sri Lanka in 1972 (100 not out for Saracens against my old club Tamil Union) and played for the Brown’s Trophy, I must say that it was a learning experience not only to the writer but also to all fans listening to these excellent cricket commentators the world over.

They were spot on with their descriptions of what was happening out in the middle. Their reading of the game, expert comments, how the pitch was playing, field placings and what bowler they thought should be bowling and how a field should be set was well thought out and a learning experience. What was interesting was that there was little or no bias. That was refreshing.

It is the consensus that generally the most biased are the England commentators, especially when their countrymen are captaining, batting, bowling or fielding. They go over the top using every known adjective to describe the efforts of their countrymen, while less significance is paid to the efforts of the other cricketers.

This time round thankfully there were only two Englishmen Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain, two former England captains, although raring’ to sing the praises of their countrymen did not go overboard, but kept their balance.

The ICC did well in not slotting in commentators such as Ian Botham, David Lloyd and David Gower. Their descriptions and comments smacked of bias and TV viewers and listeners would have reveled that they were saved listening to their bias.

And now to our man behind the mike Kumar Sangakkara. To start with and most importantly bias was not in his style and vocabulary which was great. He was always to the point, when reading the conditions, the wicket, which bowlers could get help off the wicket, how the ball would move and how the game would go and other nuances of the game. And his predictions were spot on and enjoyed by all local TV viewers.

Sangakkara’s team mates in the media box would sure have learnt from the Sri Lankan how to do commentary instead of resorting to bias which was damning on commentators who revel in this style.

Sangakkara was one of the most stylish left hand batsmen that the world of cricket has seen. From the time he was knee high to a bat he had natural talent in him not only as a batsman but also as a wicket keeper.

During his youth he had the fortune of coming under several coaches like former Dharmaraja College captain Upananda Jayasundera and it was that former Sri Lanka all rounder and coach par excellence Bertie Wijesinha who polished his rough edges and sent him into the world of big cricket.

Sangakkara’s feats with bat, wicket keeping gloves and as captain of the country are too numerous to mention while statisticians will be hugging it all, suffice to mention that four hundreds that he made in a row at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as the shining lights that will not dim and easily be equalled or surpassed.

Sangakkara added the much needed wit too in the TV Commentator’s Box and the other much experienced commentators would have stood to learn from him. He was simply marvellous and an example and it is hoped he will, in addition to his other packed schedules continue to be in demand in the TV Commentator’s Box here and abroad.

An outstanding achievement when he was elected Chairman of the prestigious Marylebourne Cricket Club, the first Sri Lankan to do so sadly did not, other than for a few congratulatory messages did not receive the high honour that an achievement of such magnitude should receive.

It was one of the greatest achievements by a Sri Lanka in any level of sport and a great pride to the country and that the Government and the Ministry of Sport did not feel it fit to honour his achievement was sad. That’s why it is said that a prophet is not without honour other than in his own country.

His stirring off the cuff speech he made when invited to speak at the prestigious Colin Cowdrey Lecture at the holy land of cricket Lord’s was master class which held the invitees spellbound, and when he finished there was thunderous applause and his speech was classed as one of the best and acknowledged the world over.

From Sangakkara we move on to three other Sri Lankans who kept the Lion Flag fluttering proudly at the World Cup. There was former Sri Lanka captain and one of the stylish batsmen and captain produced by the country doing as he often does a wonderful job as Chief match referee. We refer to Ranjan Senerath Madugalle.

From the moment he attained this high office, he has done a grand job much to the satisfaction of the players and officials and maintained a good rapport with the other match referees who have the highest regard and respect for him and they love to have him as their boss.

From Madugalle we move on to Kumar Dharmasena who is in the elite panel of Emirates Umpires. Dharmasena from the time he stood in the middle has done a job to the satisfaction of all concerned.

He is aware that he is doing a sacred job and performs it to the best of his ability and his decisions have always been spot on and rarely has the Decision Review System proved him wrong. He has a top class cricketing background and this helps him to make his job that much easier. He was twice elected the Best Umpire in the world.

Ruchira Palliyaguruge was also in the Elite Panel of umpires in the World Cup, but did not have an enjoyable outing, because he made some mistakes, though not willfully, but probably overawed by the occasion in one game. But he should not worry.

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