A great speech not only about cricket
but about life in general.
Unfortunately the speaker's life has been 'stilled' by Tamil Terorrrist's recently.
SL FM's speech to SL Cricketers in the UK a couple of years ago
Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Kadirgamar's after dinner speech in the UK,
at which Sri Lankan Cricketers were present.
Captain Atapattu and members of the Sri Lankan team Members of the Sri
Lankan community Friends of Sri Lanka Ladies and Gentlemen
Some historians say, I think uncharitably, that cricket is really a
diabolical political strategy, disguised as a game, in fact a
substitute for war, invented by the ingenious British to confuse the
natives by encouraging them to fight each other instead of their
imperial rulers. The
world is divided into two camps - those who revel in the intricacies of
cricket and those who are totally baffled by it, who cannot figure out
a group of energetic young men should spend days, often in the hot sun
or bitter cold, chasing a round object across an open field, hitting it
from time to time with a stick - all to the rapturous applause of
millions, of ecstatic spectators across the world. The game has
mystical language of its own that further bewilders those who are
already befuddled by its complexities.
In the course of my travels I have a hard time explaining to the
non-cricketing world - in America, China, Europe and Russia - that a
is not an Indian sweetmeat; that a square cut is not a choice selection
prime beef; that a cover drive is not a secluded part of the garden;
bouncer is not a muscular janitor at a night club, that a yorker is not
some exotic cocktail mixed in Yorkshire; that a leg-break is not a
manoeuvre designed to cripple your opponent's limbs below the waist.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me see whether politics and cricket have
in common. Both are games. Politicians and cricketers are superficially
similar, and yet very different. Both groups are wooed by the cruel
who embrace them today and reject them tomorrow. Cricketers work hard;
politicians only pretend to do so. Cricketers are disciplined;
discipline is a word unknown to most politicians in any language.
Cricketers risk their own limbs in the heat of honourable play,
politicians encourage others to risk their limbs in pursuit of
fruitless causes while they
secure in the safety of their pavilions. Cricketers deserve the rewards
they get; the people get the politicians they deserve. Cricketers
retire young; politicians go on for ever. Cricketers unite the country;
politicians divide it. Cricketers accept the umpire's verdict even if
disagree with it; politicians who disagree with an umpire usually get
him transferred. Cricketers stick to their team through victory and
defeat, politicians in a losing team cross over and join the winning team.
cricketers are the better breed.
It is said that the task of a foreign minister is to lie effusively for
country abroad. That may be true, but it is certainly true that he has
to fight for his country and defend it at all times. Our cricketers may
that in the run-up to the 1995 World Cup Australia refused to play a
in Colombo, citing security reasons. Shane Warne said he wouldn't come
to Colombo because he couldn't do any shopping there. The press asked
comment. I said "shopping is for sissies".
There was a storm of protest in Australia. A TV interviewer asked me
whether I had ever played cricket. I said I had played before he was
without helmets and thigh guards, on matting wickets that were full of
holes and stones, and I had my share of broken bones to show of it. My
friend the Australian foreign minister was drawn into the fray. He
phoned me. We decided to cool things down. A combined India/Pakistan
team came to Colombo at very short notice to play an exhibition match
in place of the Australian match. It was a magnificent
gesture of South Asian solidarity. Against strong security advice I
to the field to greet and thank our friends from India and Pakistan.
When the whole episode was over I sent a bouquet of flowers to my
Australian counterpart. Flowers are also for sissies.
I remember vividly the incident that occurred in Australia when Murali
called for throwing and Arjuna led his team to the boundary, in
protest, but cleverly refrained from crossing it. I was watching TV in
past captain I asked myself what I would have done in Arjuna's place.
mind I had no hesitation in supporting his decision. A few minutes
later the phone rang. The President of the Board called to ask for
Arjuna was right because a captain must, on the field, stand up for his
and protect them, but the consequences must not be allowed to go too
far; good lawyers must be engaged and a reasonable compromise must be
That was done.
During that tour I paid an official visit to Australia. My friend the
Australian foreign minister in the course of a dinner speech invited me
go with him the next day to Adelaide, his home town, to watch the final
day's play. I knew what the result was going to be. In my reply I said
at the end of the match I did not want to be the one to tell him that
Australia had "won by a Hair,'. Accordingly, I went back home, as
to maintain the good relations that we have with Australia.
Foreign ministers sometimes find themselves in very difficult situations.
Take pity on the Foreign Minister of Uganda President Idi Amin had told
that he wanted to change the name of Uganda to Idi. The minister was
told to canvas world opinion and return in two weeks. He did not do so.
He was summoned to come. He was now in danger. He was asked to explain. He
"Mr. President, I have been informed that there is a country called
Its citizens are called Cypriots, If we change the name of our country
to Idi our citizens would be called... Idiots". Reason prevailed.
A shark was asked why diplomats were his preferred food. He replied
their brains being small are a tasty morsel, their spines being supple
I can chew on them at leisure - and they come delightfully marinated in
Ladies and Gentlemen, as I approach the close of this brief address I
to speak directly to our Sri Lankan team. Today we lost a match. But
you lost to the rain and M/s Duckworth and Lewis. You did not lose to
Only a few weeks ago you had a resounding victory against South Africa.
will win again tomorrow. What is important is to keep up your
confidence and spirits.
All of us, your fellow countrymen, and countrywomen, have been
enormously impressed in recent times by the commitment, discipline,
athleticism and determination that you have displayed in the field. The
people are with you. We all know that you by hard. All of you, each and
every one of you, are constantly busy honing your skills. We can see
that you are
a high standard of physical fitness. When the people see this it gives
not only immense pleasure but the moral uplift that Sri Lankans are
of rising to the challenge of sustained performance.
Every team loses. It takes two to play a game. One has to lose. It is
the manner in which you play the game which gives the promise of
success to come. It is a great pleasure to see how youngsters are being
drafted into the national team. Our team is united; it reflects all the
races and religions of our country. Cricket, like all international
sport today, is highly competitive; and so it must be, and so it must
remain. It must always be regarded as a very high honour to represent
one's country at any sport. All of you are role models for our youth.
They will be looking to see how you take defeat. To exult in victory is
easy, to remain well balanced in defeat is a mark of maturity. Do not
allow yourselves to be disturbed by the armchair critics who will no
doubt engage in a display of theoretical learning on how the game was
played. Many of these critics have never put bat to ball. It
them feel good to indulge in the past time of amateur criticism. They
do not know what it is to face fast bowling in fading light; to engage
in a run race against daunting odds; to find the stamina and sheer
physical endurance to spend concentrated hours in the field of play.
They know nothing of the psychological pressure that modern sportsmen
Therefore, my advice to you is - ignore them. Go your way with
customary discipline and methodical preparation for the next game, the
different parts of the world under different conditions.
For me it has been a great pleasure and an honour to be here with you
tonight. When I was invited to be the Chief Guest at this occasion on
my way to New York for the General Assembly of the United Nations, I
accepted with eager anticipation of meeting our cricketers and relaxing
for a moment. Nobody told me that I had to make a speech, until last
night. It came home to me then that there is no such thing as a free