30th July 2000
The Fifth Column
Learn from the old
|My Dear Arjuna,
I thought of writing to you when I heard that you had suddenly decided to hang up your boots after such a long time on the cricket field. To say the least, we were surprised because no one really expected you to retire, unless you were dropped from the side!
Arjuna, many people are finding it difficult to react to your decision- they don't know whether to be happy or sad. They are sad that the 'little fat man who walks his runs'- as an Australian cricketer once called you- will no longer be there on the field, but they are also happy that you left before they discarded you.
After all, we do appreciate what you have done over the last twenty years for Sri Lankan cricket after entering the national side as a raw teenager. It is not wrong to say that most people in the outside world know about you than they do of our Presidents or Prime Ministers- so you have done more to put our country on the map than those people who criticise you.
The most famous of your achievements was of course winning the World Cup and that was an event that restored a sense of national pride to our country. People who were ashamed to call themselves Sri Lankans because of the cruel war, once again wanted to be part of a country that was a champion in cricket-and we have to thank you for that.
Then, when Murali was no-balled in Australia you had the courage to stand by him risking your own career for him and that is why he is still bowling and bringing us so many victories. For this too we have to be grateful to you.
But thereafter Arjuna, you wanted everything done your way- and for a while that is what happened with even Whatmore being shown the door. That- and other events - led to some unpleasant developments which resulted in Sanath taking your place. But now we can say all's well that ends well as far as cricket is concerned, can we?
But then Arjuna, what are all these stories I hear that you want to enter politics and that too from the 'Sihala Urumaya?' Are you thinking of following the footsteps of Imran Khan who also won the World Cup for his country?
Arjuna, if you retire now and do nothing- except write your memoirs, maybe- people will still remember you for a long, long time to come. The images they have of you will be of you holding the World Cup and then, wagging your finger at Umpire Emerson who dared to no-ball Murali.
But Arjuna, if you decide to take to politics, all that is bound to change and you will become just another politician- many of whom are corrupt, insensitive and hated by the masses. So, do you really want to join that club, Arjuna?
Remember, even Imran Khan hasn't got that far in politics! Think about it, Arjuna, will you? I'm sure the 'Sihala Urumaya' chaps need you more than you need them. So, think again before you accept any offer! And thank you for what you have done for Sri Lankan cricket over the years- remember, whatever you achieve in politics, that will remain your real achievement!
PS- I do see a lot of similarities between the Old Fox in politics and you in cricket. Both of you achieved so much for our country and opened avenues for so many people but both made the mistake of believing that you could do anything and both stayed on until people asked why you weren't leaving.
But Arjuna, once the Old Fox retired and left the arena, he kept away and spent a peaceful retirement. Food for thought.
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