Angelo, Politicos, “Innings” and “Captaincy’

Angelo and his parting remarks
Daily News Editorial
Sri Lanka’s outgoing cricket captain Angelo Mathews may not be the toast of many a Lankan cricket fan for leading Sri Lanka to defeat against bottom ranked Zimbabwe. His parting words, though, on relinquishing leadership of the national cricket team, no doubt, will have resonance with a majority of the general public.


Mathews said it was time to pass on the baton and the loss alone was not the reason. He had contemplated giving up the captaincy even before, but stayed on for the sake of the team. However, he could not turn a blind eye to the failures of the team during the last several months. He would not like to cling onto power and would like to quit when it was time to go. “Yes, there have been some poor performances and I am humble enough to accept it”, Mathews said.

Cartoon from Daily Mirror

While earning the appreciating of the public for his humble exit, Mathews, though, would certainly not endear himself to our politicians who would cling onto power come what may, nay, overstay their welcome. They never resign but only resign themselves to their fate, when one day they get booted out of power. Mathews was only stepping down from the helm of a cricket team which underwent reversals in recent times. He was not accused for match fixing or any such misdemeanour that tarnished the image of his team and the country at large. This could hardly be said of our politicians, who had not only done enough damage to the country and the economy by fixing DEALS, but also inflicted misery and hardship on the population by their policies and decisions.

There have been Sri Lankan politicians, far too many to enumerate, who had dug in their heels and refused to quit for far worse crimes than leading Sri Lanka to defeat against some cricketing minnow. In India, where the political culture resembles that of Sri Lanka in many ways, government ministers are known to resign, owning up for lapses in their particular ministries. There were instances where India’s Minister in charge of railways stepped down following a horrible rail tragedy that claimed dozens of lives. One also recalls a Minister of Aviation quitting his post following a plane crash, accepting responsibility for the loss of lives, though the minister concerned could not have had a direct hand in the said tragedy.

But here, in sunny Sri Lanka, no one resigns even if there are public outcries for their exit. One recalls the shameful incident during Black July when over 50 prison inmates in Welikada were brutally done to death by fellow inmates in one of the blackest episodes of the July riots. No one came forward to take responsibility, least of all, the minister in charge of prisons. That worthy, though, resigned many years later at the height of the second JVP uprising when UNP ministers were being gunned down with regular monotony. There were no takers, either, for the prison massacre of 2012, where, let alone resigning, evidence has now come to light to indicate the hand of a powerful figure of the then government being behind the whole episode.

Mathews may have stepped down, since, in his own mind, the time was appropriate to leave the stage and hand over the captaincy to a successor. But Sri Lanka had a captain of the political variety, who, let alone stepping down after serving two full terms as skipper went onto bend the rules to be captain for life, which, fortunately, failed to come to pass, with the spectators, who themselves elected the captain, saying enough was enough. It was clear to all that this captain was keen to keep the captaincy within the family and they would have none of it.

Of course, one could say that it would not make a difference for Mathews, who by now, would have earned enough to put him on easy street for the rest of his life. But for some captains in politics, whose loot have been stashed away in overseas banks, the clock cannot stop and the sky is the limit. Hence, the desperate attempt by this particular captain to play another innings even after completing the regulated two innings. This captain, it appears, won’t be stopped and will take no for an answer even though the laws were changed recently allowing all captains, hereafter, to play only one inning. This restriction, though, has not dampened the spirits of the former political captain who would not even mind being given the post of vice captain, the love he has for the game being that much.

Be that as it may, the exit of Angelo Mathews from the captaincy for failing to deliver in that role should also serve to remind those at the helm of affairs of Sri Lanka Cricket to get their act together.