There is no rule or ethics for sportsmen not to get involved in politics – Jayasuriya

Sanath Jayasuriya who will be contesting in the parliamentary elections in April spoke to The Nation on his decision to enter politics.

When asked about why he chose to get into politics, Jayasuriya told The Nation that cricket could not provide him the platform to help the people of his rural home town Matara. Although he played his last Test match in 2007, Jayasuriya said his retirement from Test cricket had freed up time in his busy schedule to enter politics.

He was then reminded that sportsmen before him had retired prior to entering politics, and also reminded that his fans questioned the morality of his decision, to which Jayasuriya responded,

Well, there is no rule or ethics for sportsmen not to get involved in politics. I do believe that it would be fine as long as I do not allow these two fields to mix.

When I take up the bat to play for Sri Lanka I will be Sanath Jayasuriya the cricketer, but out side the world of cricket, there will be a different way for dealing with the politician in me. The two fields will be separated by a clear margin and one will not overlap the other.

He was then asked if his influence as a politician will in anyway affect the judgement of the cricket selection panel or the captain,

That will never happen. I have worked very hard to get where I am today. It is through hard work and dedication that I was able to reach my current position. I didn’t get to where I am today through any influence other than the quality of my performance.

After announcing his retirement in 2006, Jayasuriya reversed his decision and was sent to England to bolster a Sri Lankan batting line up which was struggling to cope with English conditions. Some sections of the Sri Lankan media and the public saw it as Jayasuriya using his influence to get back into the team, but as Cricinfo points out, Jayasuriya was persuaded out of retirement and sent to England by none other than the current chairman of selectors Ashantha De Mel.

Jayasuriya, 36, retired from Test cricket after Sri Lanka’s last home series against Pakistan earlier this year, but was persuaded to come out of retirement by the new chairman of selectors, Asantha de Mel. He was overlooked for the six-wicket defeat at Edgbaston, as Sri Lanka’s think-tank opted to invest in youth, but now – in a must-win match – he seems set for a recall.

Such drama is nothing new for Sanath Jayasuriya. If one recalls, after the 2003 World Cup Jayasuriya stepped down from captaincy, however, the Sports Minister at the time, Johnston Fernando, rejected Jayasuriya’s resignation. Unfortunately for Sanath he has been accused of using influence to stay in the team when it has been selectors and Sports Ministers that have backed him.

In the interview he was also asked what he thought about the accusation that he took up politics with the ruling party to secure a future as a cricketer.

"That is the personal opinion of individuals. Whenever I got the opportunity, I have performed to my level best and I will continue to perform. It will not be affected by politics. My political carrier has its own purpose and I have different ambitions as a cricketer. They are not tied to each other. I will have to work separately to complete each goal," he responded.

Read the full interview here: “I will not mix politics with cricket”

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