by Sanjaya Senanayake
First, it was a great game and India were the better team at the final and during the tournament. I mean to take nothing away from such an epic victory, which I believe is something the entire subcontinent can be proud of. My gladness for Sri Lanka’s loss stems not from anything to do with India or their win.
Before and during the game, I supported Sri Lanka and hoped for a victory. Being an unsinkable optimist, down to the very last ball I continued to believe that there was hope. But then we lost. We clapped for Dhoni, Gambhir, Zaheer and most of all for Tendulkar (few Sri Lankans like Yuvraj or Harbajan).
It was only when I was on my way home that I understood the full implications of what a World Cup victory would have turned Sri Lanka into. Perhaps I should have known this all along. Perhaps I was just blinded by a possible World Cup victory. Perhaps I’m not always as aware of what’s going on around me as I would like to think.
As we drove past the offices of Sri Lanka Cricket we saw them with the gates wide open for the first time in a long time, ready for an all-night party. Their walls and gate decorated and their officials dressed to the nines. I felt sorry for them not getting to throw their big bash. But then I remembered… This is the same Sri Lanka Cricket who f**ked fans who queued up overnight to buy tickets for the games in Sri Lanka, by selling almost all the tickets to scalpers.
This is the same Sri Lanka Cricket who orchestrated a vicious smear campaign against former captain Arjuna Ranatunge through the vernacular electronic media in the days leading up to the final. This is a governing body that does not care about the fans or the players. And I’m glad they didn’t get to party all night with my money.
Then we drove past Independence Square where giant awnings had been erected in preparation for a national celebration. This was to be an event that was to be attended by the president, where he would confer special honors upon the players. This was to be an event where the president and his sons basked in the glow of a victorious cricket team and used the team’s win to add further veneer to the regime’s pseudo nation-building program. This is the same President that f**ked the whole country by raising fuel prices on the eve of the World Cup final, when they knew everyone would be distracted.
This is the same President who’s pork-barreled almost all of Sri Lanka’s development funding into a semi-arid sparsely populated district in the South-East, and then built a cricket stadium there to please his son.
This is the same President who’s responsible for the deaths of over three dozen journalists and media people, and the exile of many more. A win last night would have been very easily interpreted/hijacked as a validation of his rule.
It was only when I woke up this morning and heard of all the other state sponsored events in Colombo which have been cancelled because of the loss that I fully understood why I must’ve been bat-sh*t crazy to hope for a win.
This would’ve been an unprecedented public relations coup for the regime. All the glory of winning something awesome, minus the having-to-kill-your-own-civilians part.
Have no fear. Sri Lanka will win the World Cup again someday. But I hope it’s in a time when we have a leader we can all stand behind, a government that we all trust, a flag that we can unite under, an anthem we can sing in whatever language we want to sing in and a nation that we can all be proud of.
That victory will be epic, and it will be ours.