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Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture 4th July 2011 President (Mr Christopher Martin Jenkins): Good evening, my Lords,

ladies and gentlemen. I said that in case there are any lords in the house this evening; I havent checked whether there are. You are all very welcome. What an incredible game cricket is I will quickly underline it especially when played in the right spirit. That little film is being shown in school assemblies this year, in possibly up to 4,000 of the schools involved in the Chance to Shine campaign, so if that doesnt inspire them, nothing will. Well, actually something will: thats playing the game, of course. After our lecture this evening, we are going to have a panel, as usual, and, as usual, it is very kindly and generously being chaired by Mark Nicholas no one better. He will have with him four very distinguished people Kumar Sangakkara himself, Michael Holding, Andrew Strauss and, on the eve of a one-day international between England ladies and Australia ladies here at Lords tomorrow, Clare Connor, the former England captain. So welcome to all of you and thank you all for coming, but, above all, thank you to Kumar Sangakkara for accepting our invitation to speak this evening, a cricketer truly fabled in his own career, which is pretty rare. I think the Sangakkara cover drive will go down with the Wally Hammond cover drive. He will remembered long after he has stopped playing with great affection and admiration. He has played 97 Test matches at the moment, 8,428 runs at an average of 56, 25 hundreds, including that one very recently at the Rose Bowl, which saved the day for Sri Lanka and put right one of the few blots on his escutcheon; no hundred hitherto in England; 163 catches and 20 stumpings in Test cricket and, in his 286 one-day internationals, 8,978 runs, 11 hundreds, 60 fifties, 282 catches and 72 stumpings. Is there anything he hasnt done, you might wonder. Actually there is one thing missing, because in his proud record he has not, in 68 balls in Test cricket, taken a single wicket. (Laughter) Kumar has a best bowling analysis of none for 4, which reminds me of an ambidextrous cricketer that I used to play with, because Kumar bowls right-handed. Perhaps you should try left-handed, Kumar. He was a remarkable chap. He used to play cricket in the West Surrey region. I saw him score a brilliant hundred as a left-hander one Saturday and then about a month later he turned up and played right-handed and got another hundred, which was absolutely astonishing. In the bar afterwards I asked him how he decided which way round he was going to bat and he said Its quite simple. If I wake up on a Saturday morning and my wife is lying on her right-hand side, I bat right-handed and if she is lying on her left, I bat left. I said What do you do if she is lying on her back and he said I have to ring up the captain and say Im not available. (Laughter) I want to give a special welcome also this evening to all those members of the Cowdrey family who are here, because this is, happily, the Cowdrey lecture in memory of one of Englands greatest cricketers, and Chris and Christel are here this evening with their sons, Fabian and Julian, both members of the current Tonbridge XI, and the entire Tonbridge XI is here this evening. They are playing MCC tomorrow, and I understand that their coach has instructed that they must be in bed by 3 oclock tomorrow morning. (Laughter) We also have Jeremy here, another of Colins sons, with Robert and Charlie, and Carol, his daughter, with Jamie and Lucy, but all the Cowdrey family are, needless to say, specially warmly welcomed. Actually July was the month that in 1946 Colin Cowdrey came here as a 13-year-old boy playing for his school against Clifton. He scored 75 and 44, took three wickets in the first innings and in the second, in a thrilling match, took 5 for 59 and his school side won by two runs. Thats the stuff of dreams, and one man who has lived out his schoolboy dreams a bit more is our very honoured and honourable guest this evening, Kumar Sangakkara. (Applause)

Kumar Sangakkara: Thank you, Mr President, for that introduction. About my bowling all I would say is that the captain lost his faith in my ability when I bowled my first delivery in Galle and hit the second slip on his shin. (Laughter) Mr President, my Lords, ladies and gentlemen, firstly I wish to sincerely thank the MCC for giving me the opportunity and the great honour of delivering the 2011 Cowdrey Lecture. I was in India after the World Cup when my manager called to pass on the message that CMJ was trying to get in touch with me to see whether I would like to deliver this years lecture. I was initially hesitant, given the fact that we would be in the midst of the current ODI series, but after some reflection I realised that it was an invitation I should not turn down. To be the first Sri Lankan to be invited was a great honour not only for me, but also for my fellow countrymen. Then I had to choose my topic. I suspect many of you might have anticipated that I would pick one of the many topics being energetically debated today the role of technology, the governance of the game, the future of Test cricket and the curse of corruption, especially spotfixing. All the above are important, and no doubt Colin Cowdrey, a cricketing legend with a deep affection for the game, would have strong opinions about them all.For the record, I do too: I strongly believe that we have reached a critical juncture in the games history and that unless we better sustain Test cricket, embrace technology enthusiastically, protect the games global governance from narrow self-interest and more aggressively root out corruption, cricket will face an uncertain future. But while these would all be interesting topics, deep down inside me I wanted to share with you a story, the story of Sri Lankas cricket, a journey that I am sure Colin would have enjoyed greatly, because I dont believe any cricket-playing nation in the world today better highlights the potential of cricket to be more than just a game.This lecture is all about the Spirit of the Game, and in this regard the story of Sri Lankan cricket is fascinating. Cricket in Sri Lanka is no longer just a sport: it is a shared passion that is a source of fun and a force for unity; it is a treasured sport that occupies a celebrated place in our society. It is remarkable that in a very short period an alien game has become our national obsession, played and followed with almost fanatical passion and love, a game that brings the nation to a standstill, a sport so powerful it is capable of transcending war and petty politics. I therefore decided that tonight I would like to talk about the Spirit of Sri Lankan cricket. Ladies and gentleman, the history of my country extends over 2,500 years.A beautiful island, rich in natural resources, it is situated in an advantageously strategic position in the Indian Ocean. It has long attracted the attentions of the world, at times to our disadvantage and at times to our prosperity. It is beautiful and it is inhabited by a wonderfully resilient, vibrant and hospitable people, whose attitude to life has been shaped by volatile politics, both internal and from without.In our history you will find periods of glorious peace and prosperity and times of great strife, war and violence. Sri Lankans have been hardened by experience and have shown themselves to be a resilient and proud society, celebrating at all times their zest for life and living. Sri Lankans are a close-knit community. The strength of the family unit reflects the spirit of our communities. We are an inquisitive and fun-loving people, smiling defiantly in the face of hardship and raucously celebrating times of prosperity. We live not for tomorrow but for today, savouring every breath of our daily existence. We are fiercely proud of our heritage and culture, the ordinary Sri Lankan standing tall and secure in that knowledge. Over 400 years of colonisation by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British have failed to crush or temper our indomitable spirit, and yet in this context the influence upon our recent history and society by the introduced sport of cricket is surprising and noteworthy.Sri Lankans for centuries fiercely resisted the westernisation of our society, at times summarily dismissing western tradition and influence as evil and detrimental. Yet cricket, somehow, managed to slip through the crack in the anti-western defences in our society and has now become the most precious heirloom of our British Colonial inheritance.

It may be a result of our simple sense of hospitality, where a guest is treated to all that we have and at times even to what we dont have.If you a visit a rural Sri Lankan home and you are served a cup of tea, you will find it to be intolerably sweet. I have at times experienced this myself and upon further inquiry have found that it is because the hosts believe that the guest is entitled to more of everything, including the sugar. In homes where sugar is an ill-affordable luxury a guest will still receive sugary tea while the hosts go without. Fittingly, as it happens, Colin Cowdreys and Sri Lankas love for cricket had similar origins tea. Colins father, Ernest, was a tea planter in India. While Colin was schooled in England, he played on his fathers plantation, where I am told he used to practise with Indian boys several years his elder.Cricket was introduced to Ceylon by men like Ernest, English tea planters, during the Colonial period of occupation that covered a span of about 150 years from 1796. Credit for the games establishment in Sri Lanka, though, also has to be given to the Anglican missionaries to whom the colonial government left the function of establishing the educational institutions. By the latter half of the 19th century there had grown a large group of Sri Lankan families who accumulated wealth by making use of the commercial opportunities thrown open by the colonial government.However, a majority of these families could not gain any high social recognition due to the prevalence of a rigid hierarchal caste system that labelled them, until death, to the caste they were born into. A possible way to escape the caste stigma was to pledge their allegiance to the British crown and help the central seat of government. The missionaries, assessing the situation wisely, opened superior fee-levying English schools, especially in Colombo, for the affluent children of all races, castes and religions. By the dawn of the 20th century the introduction of cricket into this educational system was automatic, as the game had already ingrained itself deeply into the English life. As Neville Cardus said Without cricket, there can be no summer in that land. Cricket was an expensive game needing playgrounds, equipment and coaches. The British missionaries provided all such facilities to these few schools. Cricket became an instant success in this English school system. Most Sri Lankans considered cricket beyond their reach, because it was confined to the privileged schools meant for the affluent. The missionaries in due course arranged inter-colligate matches backed by newspaper coverage, which became a popular weekend social event to attend. The newspapers carried all the details about the cricket matches played in the country and outside. As a result, schoolboy cricketers became household names. The newspapers also gave prominent coverage to English county cricket, and it hasoften been said that the Ceylonese knew more about county cricket than the English themselves. Cricket clubs were formed around the dawn of the 20th century, designed to cater for the school leavers of these colleges. The clubs bore communal names like the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC), the Tamil Union, the Burgher Recreation Club and the Moors Club, but if they were considered together they were all uniformly cultured with anglicised values.Inter-club matches were played purely for enjoyment. Club cricket also opened opportunities for the locals to mix socially with the British, so when Britain granted independence to Ceylon in 1948 it is no wonder cricket was the passion of the elitist class.Although in the immediate postindependent period the anglicised elite class was a small minority, they were pro-western in their political ideology and remained a powerful political lobby. In the general elections immediately after independence, pro-elite governments were elected, and the three Prime Ministers who headed the governments had played First XI cricket for premier affluent colleges and had been members of the SSC.The period between 1960 and 1981 was one of slow progress in the games popularity, as the power transferred from the anglicised elite to rising Socialist and Nationalist groups.Nevertheless, Sri Lanka was made an associate member of the ICC in 1965, gaining the opportunity to play unofficial Test matches, with players like Michael Tissera and Anura Tennakoon impressing as genuine world-class batsmen. In 1981, thanks to the efforts of the late Hon. Gamini Dissanyake, the ICC granted Sri Lanka official Test status. It was obviously a pivotal time in our cricketing history, and this was the start of the transformation of cricket from an elite sport to a game for the masses.I do not 3

remember this momentous occasion as a child, maybe because I was only five years old, but also because it wasn't a topic that dominated conversation in our home. The early 1980s were dominated by the escalation of militancy in the north into a full-scale civil war that was to mar the next 30 years. The terrible race riots of 1983 and a bloody communist insurgency among the youth were to darken my memories of my childhood and the lives of all Sri Lankans. I recollect now the race riots of 1983 with horror, but for the simple imagination of a child not yet six it was a time of extended play and fun. I do not say this lightly, as about 35 of our closest friends, all Tamils, took shelter in our home. They needed sanctuary from vicious, politically-motivated goon squads, and my father, like many other Sri Lankans from different ethnic backgrounds, opened his house at great personal risk.For me, though, it was a time when I had all my friends to play with all day long. The schools were closed and wed play sport for hour after hour in the backyard cricket, football, rounders: it was a childs dream come true. I remember getting annoyed when a game would be rudely interrupted by my parents and wed all be ushered inside, hidden upstairs with our friends and ordered to be silent as the goon squads started searching homes in our neighbourhood.I did not realise the terrible consequences of my friends being discovered, and my father reminded me the other day of how one day during that period I turned to him and in all innocence said I hope this happens every year, because it is so much fun having my friends to play with every day. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna-led Communist insurgency rising out of our universities was equally horrific in the late 1980s. Schools and universities were closed. People rarely stepped out of their homes in the evenings. The sight of charred bodies on the roadsides and floating corpses in the river was terrifyingly commonplace. People who defied the JVP faced dire consequences. They even urged students of all schools to walk out and march in support of their aims. I was fortunate to be at Trinity College, one of the few schools that defied their dictates. Yet I was living just below Dharmaraja College in Kandy where the students who walked out of its gates were met with tear gas, and I would see students running down the hill to wash their eyes out with water from our garden tap. My first cricket coach, Mr D.H. de Silva, a wonderful human being who coached tennis and cricket to students free of charge, was shot on the tennis court by insurgents. Despite being hit in the abdomen twice, he miraculously survived when the gun held to his head jammed. Like many during and after that period, he fled overseas and started a new life in Australia. As the decade progressed, the fighting in the north and east had heightened to a full-scale war. The Sri Lankan government was fighting the terrorist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in a war that would drag our country's development back by decades. This war affected the whole of our land in different ways. Families, usually from the lower economic classes, sacrificed their young men and women by the thousands in the service of Sri Lanka's military. Even Colombo, a commercial capital that seemed far removed from the wars frontline, was under siege by the terrorists using powerful vehicle and suicide bombs. Bombs in public places targeting both civilians and political targets became an accepted risk of daily life in Sri Lanka. Parents travelling to work by bus would split up and travel separately, so that if one of them died, the other would return to tend to the family. Each and every Sri Lankan was touched by the brutality of that conflict. People were disillusioned with politics and power and war. They were fearful of an uncertain future. The cycle of violence seemed unending, and Sri Lanka became famous internationally for its war and conflict. It was a bleak time when we as a nation looked for inspiration, a miracle that would lift the pallid gloom and show us what we as a country were capable of if united as one, a beacon of hope to illuminate the potential of our peoples. That inspiration was to come in 1996. The pre-1995 era was a period during which Sri Lanka produced many fine cricketers, but struggled to break free from the old colonial influences that had indoctrinated the way the game was played in Sri Lanka. Even after gaining Test Status in 1981, Sri Lankas cricket suffered from an identity crisis: there was far too little Sri Lankan in the way we played our cricket, although there were exceptions, one being the much-talked about Sathasivam, who was a flamboyant and colourful cricketer, both on and off the field. He was a cricketer in whose 4

hand they say the bat was like a magic wand. Another unique batsman was Duleep Mendis, now our chief selector, who batted with swashbuckling bravado. Generally, though, we played cricket by the book, copying the orthodox and conservative styles of the traditional cricketing powerhouses. There was none of the live-for-the-moment and happy-go-lucky attitude that underpins our own identity. We had a competitive team, with able players, but we were timid and soft and did not yet fully believe in our own worth as individual players or as a team. I guess we were in many ways like the early West Indian teams, Calypso cricketers, who played the game as entertainers and lost more often than not, albeit gracefully. What we needed at the time was a leader, a cricketer from the masses who had the character, the ability and, above all, the courage and gall to change a system, to stand in the face of unfavourable culture and tradition, unafraid to put himself on the line for the achievement of a greater cause.This much-awaited messiah arrived in the form of an immensely talented and slightly rotund Arjuna Ranatunga. He was to change the entire history of our cricketing heritage, converting the game that we loved into a shared fanatical passion that over 20 million people embraced as their own personal dream. The leadership of Arjuna during this period was critical to our emergence as a global force. It was Arjuna who understood most clearly why we needed to break free from the shackles of our colonial past and forge a new identity exclusively from Sri Lankan values, an identity that fed from the passion, vibrancy and emotion of normal Sri Lankans. Arjuna was a man hell-bent on making his own mark on the game in Sri Lanka, determined to break from foreign tradition and create a new national brand of cricket. Coming from Ananda College to the Sinhalese Sports Club proved to be a culture shock for him. The SSC was dominated by students from St. Thomas's and Royal Colleges, the two most elite schools in Colombo. The clubs committee, membership and even the composition of the team were dominated by these elite schools. Arjuna himself has spoken about how alien the culture felt and how difficult it was for him to adjust to try and fit in. A senior stalwart of the club who saw the 15-year-old kid practising in the nets at the club, inquired about him. When told he was from the unfashionable Ananda College, he dismissed his talents immediately: We dont want any Sarong Johnnies in this club. As it turned out, Arjuna went on not only to captain the SSC for many years, but to break the stranglehold that the elite schools had on the game. His goal was to impart in the team self-belief, to give us a backbone and a sense of self-worth that would inspire the team to look the opposition in the eye and stand equal, to compete without self-doubt or fear, to defy unhealthy traditions and to embrace our own Sri Lankan identity. He led fearlessly with unquestioned authority, but in a calm and collected manner that earned him the tag Captain Cool. The first and most important foundation for our charge towards 1996 was laid. In this slightly over-weight and unfit southpaw, Sri Lanka had a brilliant general who for the first time looked to all available corners of our country to pick and choose his troops. Arjuna better than anyone at the time realised that we needed an edge and in that regard he searched for players whose talents were so unique that, when refined, they would mystify and destroy the opposition. In cricket, timing is everything. This proved to be true for the Sri Lankan team as well. We as a nation must be ever so thankful to the parents of Sanath Jayasuriya and Muttiah Muralitharan for having sired these two legends to serve our cricket at its time of greatest need. From Matara came Sanath, a man from a humble background with an immense talent that was raw and without direction or refinement, a talent under the guidance of Arjuna that was harnessed to become one of the most destructive batting forces the game has ever known. It was talent never seen before, and now, with his retirement, never to be seen again. Murali came from the hills of Kandy from a more affluent background. Starting off as a fast bowler and later changing to spin, he was blessed with a natural deformity in his bowling arm allowing him to impart so much spin on the ball that it spun at unthinkable angles. He brought wrist spin to off spin. There is a story that in the early 1990s Alan Border, having faced him, 5

walked back to the Australian dressing-room and said Hes a leg spinner, but he bowls a lot of googlies. (Laughter) Arjuna's team was now in place and it was an impressive pool of talent, but they were not yet a team. Although winning the 1996 World Cup was a long-term goal, they needed to find a rallying point, a uniting factor that gave them a sense of team, a cause to fight for, an event that would not only bind the team together, giving them a common focus, but would also rally the entire support of a nation for the team and its journey. This came on Boxing Day in 1995 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Few realised it at the time, but the no-balling of Murali for alleged chucking had far-reaching consequences. The issue raised the ire of an entire nation. Murali was no longer alone. His pain, embarrassment and anger were shared by all. No matter what critics say, the manner in which Arjuna and team stood behind Murali made an entire Sri Lankan nation proud. In that moment Sri Lanka adopted the cricketers simply as Ape Kollo, which means our boys. Gone was the earlier detachment of the Sri Lankan cricket fan and in its place was a new-found love for those 15 men. They became our sons, our brothers. Sri Lankans stood with them and shared their trials and tribulations. The decision to no-ball Murali in Melbourne was, for all Sri Lankans, an insult that would not be allowed to pass unavenged. It was the catalyst that spurred the Sri Lankan team on to do the unthinkable become World Champions just 14 years after obtaining full ICC status. It is also important to mention here that prior to 1981, more than 80% of the national players came from elite English schools, but the same schools did not contribute a single player to the1996 World Cup winning squad. The impact of that World Cup victory was enormous, broadening the games grassroots as well as connecting all Sri Lankans with one shared passion. For the first time, children from outstations and government schools were allowed to make cricket their own. Cricket was opened up to the masses. This unlocked the door for untapped talent not only to gain exposure but to have a realistic chance of playing the game at the highest level. These new grassroots cricketers brought with them the attributes of normal Sri Lankans, playing the game with a passion, joy and intensity that had hitherto been missing. They had watched Sanath, Kalu, Murali and Aravinda play a brand of cricket that not only changed the concept of one-day cricket but was also instantly identifiable as being truly Sri Lankan.We were no longer timid or soft or minnows. We had played and beaten the best in the world. We had done that without pretence or shame in a manner that highlighted and celebrated our national values, our collective cultures and our habits. It was a brand of cricket we were proud to call our own, a style with local spirit and flair, embodying all that was good in our heritage. The World Cup win gave us new strength to understand our place in our society as cricketers. In the World Cup a country found a new beginning, a new inspiration upon which to build its dreams of a better future for Sri Lanka. Here were 15 individuals from different backgrounds, races and religions, each fiercely proud of his own individuality, and yet they united not just a team but as a family, fighting for a common national cause, representing the entirety of our society, providing a shining example to every Sri Lankan, showing them with obvious clarity what it was to be truly Sri Lankan. The 1996 World Cup gave all Sri Lankans a commonality, a point of collective joy and ambition that gave a divided society true national identity and was to be the panacea that healed all social evils and would stand the country in good stead through terrible natural disasters and a tragic civil war.The 1996 World Cup win inspired people to look at their country differently. The sport overwhelmed terrorism and political strife: it provided something that everyone held dear to their heart and helped normal people to get through their lives. The team also became a microcosm of how Sri Lankan society should be, with players from different backgrounds, ethnicities and religions sharing their common joy, their passion and

love for each other and their motherland. Regardless of war, here we were playing together, and the Sri Lankan team became a harmonising factor. After the historic win the entire game of cricket in Sri Lanka was revolutionised. Television money started to pour into the cricket boards coffers. Large national and multinational corporations fought for sponsorship rights. Cricketers started to earn real money in the form of both national contracts and endorsement deals. For the first time cricketers were on billboards and television, advertising products, advertising anything from sausages to cellular networks. Cricket became a viable profession and cricketers were both icons and role models. Personally, the win was very important for me. Until that time I was playing cricket with no real passion or ambition. I never thought or dreamed of playing for my country. This changed when I watched Sri Lanka play Kenya at Asgiriya. It was my final year in school, and the first seed of my vision to play for my country was planted in my brain and heart when I witnessed Sanath, Gurasinghe and Aravinda produce a devastating display of batting. That seed of ambition spurted into life when, a couple of weeks later, I watched that glorious final in Lahore. Everyone in Sri Lanka remembers where they were on the night of that final. The cheering of a nation was a sound no bomb or exploding shell could drown. Cricket became an integral and all-important aspect of our national psyche. Our cricket embodied everything in our lives our laughter and tears, our hospitality, our generosity, our music, our food and drink. It was normality and hope, an inspiration in a war-ravaged island. In it was our culture and heritage, enriched by our myriad ethnicities and religions. In it we were untouched, at least for a while, by petty politics and divisions. It is indeed a pity that life is not cricket. If it were, we would not have seen the festering wounds of an ignorant war. The emergence of cricket and the new role of cricket within Sri Lankan society also meant that the cricketers had bigger responsibilities than merely playing on the field. We needed to live positive lifestyles off the field and we needed to give back. The same people who applaud us every game need us to contribute positively back to their lives. We needed to inspire, mostly now, off the field. The tsunami was one such event. The death and destruction left in its wake was a blow our country could not afford. We were in New Zealand playing our first ODI; we had played badly, as we had at the Oval, and were sitting, disappointed, in the dressing-room when, as usual, Sanath's phone started beeping. He read the SMS and told us a strange thing had just happened back home where waves from the sea had flooded some areas.Initially we werent too worried, thinking it was a freak tide. It was only when we were back in the hotel watching the news coverage that we realised the magnitude of the devastation. It was horrifying to watch footage of the waves sweeping through coastal towns and washing away in the blink of an eye the lives of thousands. We could not believe that it had happened. We called home to check. Is it true? we asked. How can the pictures be real? we thought.All we wanted to do was to go back home to be with our families and stand together with our people. I remember landing at the airport on 31stDecember, a night when the whole of Colombo is normally litup for the festivities, a time of music, laughter and revelries, but the town was empty and dark, the mood depressed and silent with sorrow. While we were thinking how we could help, Murali was quick to provide the inspiration. Murali is a guy who has been pulled from all sides during his career, but hes always stood only alongside his team-mates and countrymen. Without any hesitation, he was on the phone to his contacts both local and foreign and in a matter of days, along with the World Food Programme, he had organised container loads of basic necessities of food, water and clothing to be distributed to the affected areas and people.Amazingly, refusing to delegate the responsibility of distribution to the concerned authorities, he took it upon himself to accompany the convoys. It was my good fortune to be invited to join him. My wife and I along with Mahela, Ruchira Perera, our physio C.J. Clark and many other volunteers drove alongside the aid convoys towards an experience that changed me as a person. We based ourselves in Polonnaruwa, just north of Dambulla, driving daily to visit tsunamiravaged coastal towns like Trincomalee and Batticaloa, as well as southern towns like Galle and Hambantota on later visits. We visited shelter camps run by the army and the LTTE and 7

even some administered in partnership between them, two bitter warring factions brought together to help people in a time of need. In each camp we saw the effects of the tragedy written upon the faces of the young and old, vacant and empty eyes filled with sorrow and a longing for homes, for loved ones and for livelihoods lost to the terrible waves. Yet for us, their cricketers, they managed a smile. In the Kinniya Camp just south of Trincomalee, the first response of the people who had lost so much was to ask us if our families were OK. They had heard that Sanath and Upul Chandana's mothers were injured and they inquired about their health. They did not exaggerate their own plight nor did they wallow in it. Their concern was equal for all those around them. This was true in all the camps we visited. Through their devastation shone the Sri Lankan spirit of indomitable resilience, compassion, generosity, hospitality and gentleness. This is the same spirit in which we play our cricket. In this, our darkest hour, a country stood together in support and love for each other, united and strong. I experienced all this and vowed to myself that never would I be tempted to abuse the privilege that these very people had afforded me the honour and responsibility of representing them on the field, playing a game they loved and adored. The role the cricketers played in their personal capacities for post-tsunami relief and rebuilding was worthy of the trust the people of a nation had in them. Murali again stands out. His Seenigama project with his manager Kushil Gunasekera, which I know the MCC has supported, and still does, with ongoing funding of over 30,000 a year and which included the rebuilding of over 1000 homes, was amazing. I was fortunate that during my life I never experienced violence in Sri Lanka at first hand. They had been so many bomb explosions over the years, but I was never in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Colombo, apart from occasional bombs, life was relatively normal: people had the luxury of being physically detached from the war: children went to school, people went to work and I played my cricket. In other parts of the country, though, people were putting their lives in harms way every day either in the defence of their motherland or just trying to survive the geographical circumstances that made them inhabit a war zone.For them, avoiding bullets, shells, mines and grenades was imperative for survival. This was an experience I could not relate to. I had great sympathy and compassion for them, but had no real experience from which I could draw parallels. That was until we toured Pakistan in 2009. We set off to play two Tests in Karachi and Lahore. The first Test, played on a featherbed, passed without great incident. The second Test was also meandering along, with us piling up a big first innings, when we departed for the ground on day three. Having been asked to leave early instead of waiting for the Pakistan bus, we were anticipating a hard day of toil for the bowlers. At the back of the bus the fast bowlers were loud in their complaints. I remember Thilan Thushara being particularly vocal, complaining that his back was near breaking point, and he joked and I kid you not that he wished a bomb would go off so we could all leave Lahore and go back home. Not 30 seconds had passed when we heard what sounded like fire crackers going off. Suddenly a shout came from the front Get down they are shooting at the bus. The reaction was immediate. Everyone dived for cover and took shelter on the aisle or behind the seats. With very little space, we were lying on top of each other. Then the bullets started to hit. It was like rain on a tin roof. The bus was at a standstill, an easy target for the gunmen. As bullets started bursting through the bus, all we could do was lay still, stay quiet, hoping and praying to avoid death or injury. Suddenly Mahela, who sits right at the back of the bus, shouts saying he thinks he has been hit in the shin. I am lying next to Thilan. He groans in pain as a bullet hits him in the back of his thigh. I turn my head to look at him and I feel something whizz past my ear and a bullet thuds into the side of the seat, the exact spot where my head had been a second ago. I feel something hit my shoulder and it goes numb. I know I have been hit, but I was just relieved and praying I was not going to be hit in the head.

Tharanga Paranvithana, on his debut tour, is also next to me. He stands up, bullets flying all around him, shouting I just got hit, as he holds his blood-soaked chest. He collapses into his seat, apparently unconscious. This is his debut tour, and I see him and I think Oh my God, you were out first ball, run out in the next innings and now you have been shot. What a terrible, terrible first tour. (Laughter) It is strange how clear your thinking is. I did not see my life flash by. There was no insane panic. There was absolute clarity and awareness of what was happening at that moment. I heard the bus roar into life and start to move. Dilshan is screaming at the driver Drive, drive. We speed up, swerve and are finally inside the safety of the stadium. There is a rush to get off the bus. Tharanga Paranavithana stands up, feels his back and says Oh, theres no hole there. I think Im OK. He is still bleeding. He has a bullet lodged lightly in his sternum, the body of the bus tempering its velocity enough to be stopped by the bone. Thilan is helped off the bus. In the dressing room there is a mixture of emotions. There is anger, relief, joy. Players and coaching staff are being examined by paramedics. Thilan and Paranavithana are taken by ambulance to hospital. We all sit in the dressing room and talk, talk about what happened. Within minutes there is laughter and the jokes have started to flow. We have for the first time been a target of violence and we had survived.We all realised that what some of our fellow Sri Lankans experienced every day for nearly 30 years had just happened to us. There was a new respect and awe for their courage and selflessness. It is notable how quickly we got over that attack. Although we were physically injured, mentally we held strong. A few hours after the attack we were airlifted to the Lahore air force base. Ajantha Mendis, his head swathed in bandages after multiple shrapnel wounds, suggests a game of poker. Thilan had been brought back, sedated but fully conscious, to be with us, and we make jokes at him and he smiles back. We were shot at, grenades were thrown at us, we were injured and yet we were not cowed. We were not down and out. We are Sri Lankan, we thought to ourselves, and we are tough and we will get through hardship and we will overcome, because our spirit is strong.This is what the world saw in our interviews immediately after the attack: we were calm, we were collected and rational. Our emotions held true to our role as unofficial ambassadors. A week after our arrival in Colombo from Pakistan I was driving in Colombo and I was stopped at a checkpoint. A soldier politely inquired as to my health after the attack. I said I was fine and added that what they as soldiers experienced every day we experienced only for a few minutes, but still managed to grab all the headlines. He looked me in the eye and he said It is OK if I die because it is my job and I am ready for it, but you are a hero and if you were to die it would be a great loss for our country. I was taken aback. How can this man value his life less than mine? His sincerity was overwhelming. I felt humbled. This is the passion that cricket and cricketers evoke in Sri Lankans. This is the love that I strive everyday of my career to be worthy of. Coming back to our cricket, the World Cup also brought less welcome changes with the start of detrimental cricket board politics and the transformation of our cricket administration from a volunteer-led organisation run by well-meaning men of integrity into a multi-million dollar organisation that has been in turmoil ever since.In Sri Lanka, cricket and politics have been synonymous. The efforts of the Hon. Gamini Dissanayake were instrumental in getting Sri Lanka test status. He was also instrumental in building Asgiriya, the international cricket stadium in Kandy. In the infancy of our cricket it was impossible to sustain the game without state patronage and funding.When Australia and West Indies refused to come to our country for the World Cup it was through government channels that the combined World Friendship XI came and played in Colombo to show the world that it was safe to play cricket there. The importance of cricket to our society also means that at all times it enjoys benevolent state patronage. For Sri Lanka to be able to select a national team, it must have membership of the Sports Ministry. No team can be fielded without the final approval of the Sports Minister. It is 9

indeed a unique system, where the board-appointed selectors can at any time be overruled and asked to reselect a side already chosen. The Sports Minister can also exercise his unique powers to dissolve the cricket board if investigations reveal corruption or financial irregularity. With the victory in 1996 came money and power to the board and players. Players from within the team itself became involved in power games. Officials elected to power in this way in turn manipulated player loyalty to achieve their own ends. At times board politics would spill over into the team causing rift, ill feeling and distrust. The only shining example to the contrary that I can remember was an interim committee headed by Vijaya Malalasekera, who is sitting here today in the audience. Accountability and transparency in administration and credibility of conduct were lost in a mad power struggle that would leave Sri Lankan cricket with no consistent and clear administration. Presidents and elected executive committees would come and go; government-picked interim committees would be appointed and dissolved. Since 1996 the cricket board has been controlled and administered by a handful of wellmeaning individuals, either personally or by proxy, rotated in and out depending on appointment or election. Unfortunately, to consolidate and perpetuate their powers,they opened the door of the administration to partisan cronies, which would lead to corruption and a wanton waste of cricket board finances and resources. It was and still is confusing. Accusations of vote buying and rigging, player interference due to lobbying from each side and even violence at the AGMs, including the brandishing of weapons and ugly fist fights, have characterised cricket board elections for as long as I can remember. The team lost the buffer between itself and the cricket administration. Players had become used to approaching members in power, directly trading favours for mutual benefits, and by 1999 all these changes in administration and player attitudes had transformed what was a close-knit unit in 1996 into a collection of individuals with no shared vision or sense of team. The World Cup that followed in England in 1999 was a debacle a first-round exit. Fortunately, though, the disastrous performance of the team proved to be a catalyst for further change within the dynamics of the Sri Lankan team. A new mix of players, a nice blend of youth and experience, provided the context in which the old hierarchical structures within the team were dismantled, and in the decade that followed under the more consensual and inclusive leadership of Sanath, Marvan and Mahela the team continued to grow. In the new team culture forged since 1999, individuals are accepted. The only thing that matters is discipline and commitment to the team. Individuality and internal debate are welcome. Respect is not demanded but earned. There was a new commitment towards keeping the team safe from board turmoil. It has been difficult to exclude it fully from our team dynamics, because there are constant efforts to drag us back in, and in times of weakness and doubt players have crossed the line. Still we have managed to protect and motivate our collective efforts towards one goal winning on the field. We have to aspire to better administration. Administrators need to adopt the same values enshrined by the team over the years integrity, transparency, commitment and discipline. Unless the administration is capable of becoming more professional, forward-thinking and transparent, we risk alienating the common man. Indeed, this is already happening. Loyal fans are becoming increasingly disillusioned. This is a very dangerous thing, because it is not the administrators or players who sustain the game: it is the cricket-loving public. It is their passion that powers cricket and if they turn their backs on cricket, the whole system will come crashing down. The solution to this may be the ICC taking a stand to suspend member boards with any direct detrimental political interference and allegations of corruption and mismanagement. This will negate the ability of those boards to field representative teams or receive funding and other accompanying benefits from the ICC. But as a Sri Lankan I hope we have the strength to find the answers ourselves. While the team structure and culture was slowly evolving, our on-field success was primarily driven by the sheer talent and spirit of the uniquely talented players unearthed in recent times, 10

players like Murali, Sanath, Aravinda, Mahela and Lasith Malinga. Although our school cricket structure is extremely strong, our club structure remains archaic. With players diluted among 20 clubs, the national coaching staff cannot easily identify and funnel talented players through for further development. The lack of competitiveness of the club tournament does not lend itself to producing hardened first-class professionals. Various attempts to change this structure, to condense and improve, have been resisted by the administration and the clubs concerned, the main reason for this being that any elected cricket board that offends these clubs runs the risk of losing their votes come election time.At the same time, the instability of our administration is a huge stumbling block to the rapid facechange that we need. Indeed, it is amazing that, despite this system, we are able to produce so many world-class cricketers. Nevertheless, despite abundant natural talent, we need to change our cricketing structure: we need to be more Sri Lankan rather than selfish; we need to condense our cricketing structure to ensure that the best players play against each other at all times. We need to do this with an open mind, allowing both innovative thinking and free expression. In some respects we are doing it already, especially our coaching department, which is actively searching for unorthodox talent. We have recognised and learnt that our cricket is stronger when it is free-spirited and we therefore encourage players to express themselves and be open to innovation. There was a recent occasion where the national coaches were tipped off to the case of a six-foot tall volley ball player. He apparently, when viewed by the district coach of the region, ambles up to the wicket off about four steps, jumps 4 to 5 feet high in the air in a smash-like leapand delivers the ball while in mid-air. His feet are within the two bowling creases, the popping and the bowling crease, but after his delivery he lands quite a way down the wicket. The district coach found this very interesting and unique, so he thought Lets have a trial. So he takes a video camera along and gets this volley ball player, who has never bowled before for any lengthy period, to bowl for half an hour in the district nets. He does quite a good job, half an hour of jumping high and delivering a cricket ball quite well, with good direction, and the video sample is then sent back to our cricket board. The national coaches also find it interesting and they say Lets call him to Colombo for a trial. Four days later they make a call, and the volley ball player answers the telephone call from a hospital bed. When invited, he says Oh, Im sorry. I cant move. Ive never bowled for 30 minutes. Ive strained my back. (Laughter) So the search for gold in that particular instance did not come to fruition. There was another case where there was a letter postmarked from a distant village, where the writer claimed to be the fastest undiscovered bowler in Sri Lanka. Upon further inquiry, it was found that the letter was written by a teenage Buddhist monk, who proceeded to give a bowling demonstration dressed in his flowing saffron robes. In Sri Lanka cricket tempts even the most chaste and holy. (Laughter) If we are able to seize the moment, the future of Sri Lankas cricket remains very bright. I pray we do, because cricket has such an important role to play in our islands future. Cricket played a crucial role during the dark days of Sri Lankas civil war, a period of enormous suffering for all communities, but the conduct and performance of the team will have even greater importance as we enter a crucial period of reconciliation and recovery, an exciting period where all Sri Lankans aspire to peace and unity. It is also an exciting period for cricket, where the re-integration of isolated communities in the north and the east opens up new talent pools.The spirit of cricket can and should remain the guiding force for good within society, providing entertainment and fun, but also a shining example to all of how we should approach our lives. The war is now over. Sri Lanka looks towards a new future of peace and prosperity. I am eternally grateful for this. It means that my children will grow up without war and violence being a daily part of their lives. They will learn of its horrors not first-hand but perhaps in history class or through conversations, for it is important that they understand and appreciate the great and terrible price our country and our people paid for the freedom and security they now enjoy. 11

In our cricket we display a unique spirit, a spirit enriched by lessons learned from a history spanning over two and a half millennia. In our cricket you see the character of our people, our history, culture and tradition, our laughter, our joy, our tears, our regrets and our hopes. It is rich in emotion and talent. My responsibility as a Sri Lankan cricketer is to further enrich this beautiful sport, to add to it and enhance it and to leave a richer legacy for other cricketers to follow. I will do that keeping paramount in my mind my Sri Lankan identity play the game hard and fair and be a voice with which Sri Lanka can speak proudly to the world. My loyalty will be to the ordinary Sri Lankan fan, the 20 million hearts beating collectively as one to our island rhythm, filled with an undying and ever-loyal love for this, our game, fans of different races, castes, ethnicities and religions, who together celebrate their diversity by uniting for cricket, a common national cause. Those fans are my foundation; they are my family. I will play my cricket for them. Their spirit is the true spirit of cricket. With me are all my people. I am Tamil, I am Sinhalese, I am Muslim and I am Burgher. I am a Buddhist, I am Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. But, above all, today and always, I will be proudly Sri Lankan. Thank you. (Standing ovation) Mark Nicholas: You are a hard act to follow, sir. Many congratulations. I think we are all struck by the immense pride you have in your land and your people. We are humbled by the brilliance of your language and your use of it. That is an eye-opener for all of us, not least the Tonbridge First XI, Im sure (Laughter) and we are struck by your messages. Archbishop Desmond Tutu received a standing ovation in a different room to this one, and you have matched him. Kumar Sangakkara, thank you very much. (Applause) As it should be, ladies and gentlemen, a person whose cricket was of the highest standard, who led her country with a stature and a meaning that defined its future, but has gone on in her second career in the game to even greater heights, now running the womens game and playing an important role in many other parts of the game globally, our first guest, Clare Connor. (Applause) Anybody called Whispering Death has to be good and has to be dangerous. Michael Holding, ladies and gentlemen. (Applause) Our 2011 Cowdrey lecturer, Kumar Sangakkara. (Applause) And the captain of England, Andrew Strauss. (Applause) Andrew Strauss: Hello. Mark Nicholas: While we recover, lets liven things up a bit. Are you champing at the bit now that youve retired from the one-day game? Are you looking at those losses and thinking Maybe I should still be a part of that or I could do something about that? Andrew Strauss: I think, because as an England captain you invest so much with your team, you still have a great regard for it and a great wish for the side to be doing well, but I think its important to realise that the end of the World Cup is the end of a cycle and post-World Cup is the start of a new cycle, and therefore I think its wrong to expect the England side to suddenly be the best side in the world. Theres a lot of hard work necessary. Alastair Cook and Andy Flower have got a fairly blank canvas from which to work to move forward, but its going to take some time and its going to be a hell of a lot of hard work, and we will have good days and we will have bad days, and over time well get better. Im very, very confident that will happen. Im going to try and help out in any way I possibly can, but patience is necessary. Mark Nicholas: Are you champing at the bit? Andrew Strauss: I miss it, but the reason that I gave up the game was to concentrate on the rest of my Test career and hopefully elongate it. I am pretty certain that that can happen and I am concentrating my energies on doing that. Mark Nicholas: All right. Clare, your girls are doing fantastically well. Clare Connor: They are. They are in the midst of an international quadrangular tournament at the moment featuring Australia, New Zealand, India and England, which is really great 12

timing for that event, because its midway between ICC global events, so a good gauge to see where we are, and we are unbeaten in six games at the moment. The Twenty20s were won on Monday at the Rose Bowl after some really great coverage from Sky. We played double headers with the England mens team on Saturday at Bristol in front of 9,000 people, which was wonderful for the players, and we are mid-way through the 50-over tournament at the moment. We are playing here tomorrow against Australia and then in the final on Thursday at Wormsley, also against Australia, which we know already. So its going really well. Mark Nicholas: In general of late, a bit like the fellows, youve had the Aussies covered, havent you? Clare Connor: Were doing OK. Yes, were doing OK. In the tour down under over the winter we beat them 4-1 in the Twenty20 series, lost 2-1 in the one-dayers and lost the one-off Test match. Mark Nicholas: It was an unusual Test match to lose really, because you were dominating them for a long period. Clare Connor: Yes, it was a shame. It was a one-off Test match. Thats all in the balance for the future of womens Test cricket hugely, because we dont play very much and we dont play any domestic multi-day cricket at all. But the limited over stuff is going brilliantly. Mark Nicholas: All in the balance the future of Test cricket, Mikey. That could apply to the West Indies. I just wondered if you listened to Kumar Michael Holding: Every word. Mark Nicholas: and thought of the West Indian islands. His tale of a small island with its own identity is one that must resonate with you. Michael Holding: Certainly, and what he was saying about what was happening with his board certainly struck a chord with me, because I think we have similar problems in the Caribbean. I think a lot of the West Indian cricketers and former cricketers would express the same thoughts as Kumar has expressed about the direction of our board and what is happening within our board. What has happened, as I joked to the gentleman from TWI when I was in the Caribbean during the Pakistan series, is that they were the ones who brought money into our cricket and they were the ones who started its destruction. But, as Kumar says, hopefully we will be able to solve that problem ourselves and hopefully well get back to where we belong. Mark Nicholas: Is everybody picking up Mikey OK? No? Im not sure that Michael Holdings microphone is bang on, so while hes on that (Laughter) its a hell of a view, particularly if hes walking away from you, having just bowled a ball at 110 mph. Michael Holding: I hope everyone is hearing now. Is that better? Mark Nicholas: Yes, the voice of silk listen to that. Marvellous. How did Murali deal with the accusations that were thrown at him? It is the only thing Im interested to know from your lecture, as an adjunct to it. The man must have been creased internally so often, and yet he kept coming back. At any stage did you see him down enough to be concerned about it? Kumar Sangakkara: No. I wasnt a part of the team when he was first called, but Murali has told me that at that time he felt as if his career was over; he felt that that was the last ball he would ever bowl and that he would never be able to play cricket again. But the one thing he appreciated and that brought him back, he said, was the support he received from the team and Arjuna and the people. For him that was the one thing that gave him the courage to get tested, not just once, but over and over again. Once in Australia there was this biomechanist who wrote an article saying Murali bowls his doosra this speed. He must be chucking it, and the next day when we turned up for training, we couldnt find Murali. He turns up in the evening and I asked him where he went, and he said I just went to meet that guy and I just offered him the opportunity to test me. And I was thinking Are you mad?, but for Murali that was also a motivating factor to prove everyone wrong, to show what he could do and that he could do it well and within the limits set. 13

Mark Nicholas: I thought Shane Warne made an interesting point in an interview recently or actually as long as a year ago about Murali, when he said that the legitimacy of the action had sort of become irrelevant. Its now just an issue of celebrating an amazing man and cricketer, and I get the impression in the game that all those doubts and those questions and that antagonism, particularly of the late-90s, have long gone from the cricketers who played with him and against him. Andrew Strauss: I couldnt agree more. It has been one of the great challenges and honours of my career to play against Murali and Shane Warne. You look at what theyve achieved in the game and you realise that they are true greats of the game. As you correctly say, Murali had to deal with all this other stuff off the field, people questioning him, which must have made it so much harder for him to go out and perform so consistently. Its a subject that has passed a long time ago Mark Nicholas: He is widely loved, isnt he? Andrew Strauss: and he finished in a fantastic manner, and a manner that befitted a man of his substance and what hed achieved in the game. Mark Nicholas: Had he and Warne bowled with the decision review system in place for the whole of their careers, heaven only knows well, with the LBWs. Clare, youre on a big committee. Clare Connor: Im on the committee that Mikey stepped off actually. Mark Nicholas: Yes. I dont know how to rationalise that. The ICC have just concluded their annual board meeting in Hong Kong, and the decision review system played an enormous part in that meeting. I suspect you had your moment, right at the start of the lecture, when you had a stern word to say to India, but I may be being unfair there. But India refuse to embrace ball-tracking, so we will have a piece of the decision review system, as we know it, but not all of it. Is it fair to ask you if the recommendations of the Cricket Committee are different from those that come out of the main board as a result of those deliberations? Clare Connor: A tiny bit perhaps, yes. Not a tiny bit unfair a tiny bit different. Mark Nicholas: Is it something that the Cricket Committee spend a great deal of time on? Rationalising the DRS and taking it forward must be very complicated. Clare Connor: Yes, a huge amount of time. I think virtually day one of the recent two days of meetings were on the DRS, with presentations from Hawkeye, looking at a huge amount of footage, looking at statistics, looking at decisions and percentages of correct decisions and looking at how to further develop the use of DRS in the Test game, where it can be used, facilities and budgets permitting, and how it can be used best in ODI cricket as well. Mark Nicholas: It may be that some in the room arent unaware that the position now is that all the teams in the world will use the DRS in its entirety, except for India, who are not embracing ball-tracking technology i.e. the LBW mat and the predicted path of the ball. Do you have any sympathy with the Indians? Michael Holding: No, not at all. (Laughter and applause) But, to be honest, I havent really been a fan of the projected path of the ball. I think that what Hawkeye has produced with the actual path of the ball and where the ball has landed and where it has gone on to hit whatever it is, whether it is the bat or the pad, I have been 100% happy with that. The projected path of the ball is a calculation. It obviously has a margin of error. They wont call it a margin of error, because they dont want to hear the word error. So that is why, when it is hitting the stumps or projected to be hitting the stumps, not full on, they leave it to the umpires call, whatever the umpire had said previously to it being referred. So if you are going to leave it to the umpires call, that means you are thinking that whatever you are showing is not 100% correct. And I dont believe in going to technology. That is when I then start thinking If it is not 100% correct, why should I use it? So everything but the projected path I have been happy with, and I cannot understand why India do not want to use a mat. That mat is placed there by an immovable camera; that camera doesnt move. That is what puts the mat there. Where the 14

ball has been pitched has been shown to be 100% correct with the pathway of the ball, so I have no problem with that. I dont see why India should not want to use it. Mark Nicholas: Could it be anything to do with protection of their best players? Michael Holding: That is a possibility, but I dont want to speculate. All I would say is they have too much power, as Kumar was intimating earlier on. I do not believe any country should be able to dictate to the rest of the world, in whatever sport it is. (Applause) Coming from Jamaica and the Caribbean, we have been fans of Brazilian football for years. Brazil dominated football for many World Cups. They could not go to FIFA and say This is what we want in the next World Cup. They could never ever dictate the path of anything. The organisation that runs the sport, as far as I am concerned, is the organisation that should dictate the path, and I am seeing where individual boards are dictating certain things, which I cannot agree with. Mark Nicholas: So you stood down from the ICC Cricket Committee because you felt that the balance was wrong? Michael Holding: Well, not because of that specific situation, but because the Cricket Committee, which was made up of former cricketers and people involved in the game, then suggested something Well, let us be specific: the Pakistan-England Test match at the Oval. Mark Nicholas: The one that was abandoned and given to England? Michael Holding: Abandoned and given to England. We suggested that it should remain as an England victory. It went to the executive committee, who decided no, it is a draw, and I know it was because of political reasons You scratch my back, I will scratch yours and I am not into that, so I wrote to them and told them Ill have nothing more to do with the Cricket Committee. Just recently an officer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, when he heard some of the recommendations from the Cricket Committee to the board, Philip Hunter said Oh, thats just the Cricket Committee. Why would I want to be a part of something thats just a cricket committee? If the recommendations coming from those wellrespected people on the Cricket Committee I nearly said gentlemen, sorry are going to be thought of as just from the cricket committee, I have better things to do with my time. (Applause) Mark Nicholas: Im glad I asked, Mikey! (Laughter) I am not going to push you on that subject, but what I am interested in is whether you are comfortable, the two of you, as current players, with players challenging, and thats what they are doing. I know its called the DRS, or whatever platitude it may be, but its a player challenge. Are you comfortable with it as it is or do you think theres still an argument that says it should be left to three umpires to sort it out with their talk back and their replays, working together as one? Kumar Sangakkara: Of course it adds to the spectacle of the game when the players can challenge. The crowd likes it, and it gives the captains decisions to make, some of them strategic, as to when and against which players you might use your calls, but at the same time I am a great believer in leaving it to the three umpires. If they need assistance to make their decision, let them ask for that, and allow the three umpires to sort it out between themselves. Mark Nicholas: All right. Interesting. Andrew? Andrew Strauss: I must admit I had problems with it when it was first mooted. I worried about the players being involved in the decision-making process, which was kind of very contrary to what the game of cricket was all about, which was that the umpires made the final decision. But having seen it work and having seen umpires get used to the idea, I dont think they feel so much undermined now. A lot of the time the best umpires actually come out with their reputations enhanced by the DRS. I think everyones got used to it, I think we get more decisions right as a result of it, and therefore its for the betterment of the game of cricket. Mark Nicholas: Before I forget, on a different note, we heard Kumar talk about when he first seriously thought how much he wanted to play for his country. Do you remember that moment yourself?


Andrew Strauss: I think actually it was Mike Gatting bringing back the Ashes in 1986. That was my first really strong memory of English cricket, and what it meant when England did well in cricket. Subsequent to that, England had a lot of down times, some up times, but that kind of ignited the interest. Mark Nicholas: Theres a misconception about Andrew that he spent a lot of his young life in South Africa. You actually went to prep school at Caldecott. So you went to Caldecott and Radley. Where were you when Gatt was Andrew Strauss: I had come to England. Mark Nicholas: You had come to England? Andrew Strauss: Yes. Mark Nicholas: And, Clare, do you remember when you first thought I want to do this? Clare Connor: Yes, it was whilst I was playing a lot of boys cricket. I was playing for Brighton College First XI and I was 17 when the England womens team won the World Cup here against New Zealand and it was all over the front page news. I wasnt really aware of womens cricket and what you could go on and do within the womens game, but it fired my imagination hugely. Mark Nicholas: And did you bowl fast as a boy, or did you sprint and hurdle? Michael Holding: I did everything. I am a bit different. I never aspired to be a West Indies cricketer. I played sports and I did whatever was available. I spent all my daylight hours outside. I never wanted to be indoors once the sun was shining, and whatever was going on, I played. I would ride and skate, I would play marbles, I played cricket, football, whatever was going. As a matter of fact at age 21, when I was first selected for the West Indies team to go to Australia I was a little bit disappointed, to be honest. This is weird, but I grew up in such a close-knit family in Jamaica, and the first thought that came to me when I was selected to go to Australia was that I was going to be away for Christmas and, to be honest, it was not a welcoming thought. But you play for your country, you get to enjoy the team that you are with and the guys that you play with, and they become another family, so time moves on and it went on and I enjoyed it, but my initial response was not one of joy, Great, Im going to play for the West Indies. Mark Nicholas: The home sickness to death. So now youve got this dream and youre growing up. Did you feel that women were patronised as cricketers? Its a different world now for women, who are so much more accepted within crickets inner family. Clare Connor: I didnt feel it once, no. Ive often been asked that and been asked what it was like to grow up being a girl at a cricket club, and all I wanted to do was play cricket. Mum was asking me to help her make the teas, and I was saying No, Im going to go and practise with dad, and all that kind of stuff. I had no concept that it was unusual at all when I was little, and I think that must have been because of the complete, unconditional support of my parents, my family, coaches, teachers, all that kind of thing. For me it was just the most normal thing that I would go on and play cricket at the highest level I could. I think I was incredibly lucky to have had those experiences, and I think the beauty now for girls growing up, being inspired by Charlotte Edwards or whoever it is, is that they can all play, as Kumar was referring to, in terms of moving cricket from the elite sector to the public schools and state schools or whatever. Girls can now do that through Chance to Shine, and thats just the most fabulous opportunity. Mark Nicholas: And lots of the England womens team coach in those schools: they do a massive job. I heard you being interviewed recently and talking about the primacy of Test match cricket and the importance of it. Its obviously something close to your heart, but equally you play in the Indian Premier League, and the IPL interrupts a future tours programme; it even interrupts a


Sri Lankan tour of England, so you arrived here a little late. How do you reconcile that position? Kumar Sangakkara: I think arriving in England a little late, again we are contracted to the cricket board and every single contract we sign with the IPL is subordinate to our national contracts. We were just waiting for the board to tell us, Come on the 8th, we would come on the 8th; Come on the 10th, we will come on the 10th. The board needs to tell us exactly when they want us here and when the squad meets together to train. At the same time I believe that, if youre a cricketer of any worth, the format that you must aspire to play is Test cricket. At the end of your career no ones going to talk about how much money you made or what you were sold off at an auction for, but they will talk about your wickets and the runs youve scored. There is no greater pride than walking out there with a Test cap on and playing the game against the best sides in the world. But at the same time, to add to that, I think Twenty20 cricket is great: the money is good for the players and for the boards. Why not use that to sustain Test cricket, if it is financially not becoming Mark Nicholas: In what way? How would you go about that? Kumar Sangakkara: I think that all cricket boards should aspire to have equity in enterprises that actually go to countries and promote Twenty20 cricket as leagues. The ICC needs only to organise the Twenty20 World Cup every two years and let Twenty20 cricket run as a franchised-based competition. Mark Nicholas: So its a business model youre talking about. Kumar Sangakkara: Its a business model, where the finances gained from that can be injected into sustaining Test cricket, and this time in the IPL there was something akin to that that happened, because the boards acted as the agents for the players and they received 10% over and above what the players were paid, so the boards were getting a direct benefit, and for us the question was that that money should go to pay the club cricketers in Sri Lanka, because our club cricketers play a match now for $45 a game. This is our best first-class cricket in Sri Lanka, the provincial tournament or the club tournament. They earn $45 a game, which does not even allow them to buy a bat at the end of the season. Mark Nicholas: I didnt ask you the question of your own reconciliation as an accusation. I was interested in how demanding it must be on you and how difficult it must be to thread your way through that. How do you look at an England player like Owen Morgan, who is now going to be in the Test side, the one-day side, the Twenty20 side, and have a chance to make all this money in the IPL? The canvas has changed dramatically, even since you began. Andrew Strauss: Absolutely, and I think that individual players will have individual decisions to make about which route they want their career to go down. I think when were managing a Test side or an international team all you can say is what is in the best interests of our side, going forward, and thats how you decide when players should go, if they should go to IPL, to what extent they can stay there, all that sort of stuff, and thats always been our abiding concern, and then the players individually have the option of saying Well, I dont like that. Im going to go and play for the IPL for the full time. Thats their decision to make. If they want to do that, they have got to understand that they cant have the best of all worlds. Mark Nicholas: Lets loosen it off to finish up. Kumar, I couldnt help but pick up on a word you used flair and I love that concept of Sri Lanka and flair. When I first went there it felt to me like first going to Barbados, with cricket on the beach and in the streets. Everybody seemed to play the game with an individuality that was every bit as strong as it was, say, when I first went to Barbados in the early 80s. What are the moments and the flair players? Who are the flair players who have most thrilled you? Who have you watched and youve thought Yes, thats the model for young cricketers, and these guys here are the next generation. Mikey, lets start with you, because you played in a team that was just riddled with flair. Michael Holding: Yes. Early in my career when I was a young man I was impressed by some overseas cricketers, as you may call it non-West Indians. I played my first Test series against 17

Australia and, as a young man, I came up against Ian Chappell, who I thought was a flair player, because Ian Chappell certainly did not bat by the book and did not bat the orthodox style. But since then there have been so many, Mark. When you think of the kind of players that Pakistan produced, like Zaheer Abbas. I am so happy I never played a Test match against him. I played a few one-day internationals, but never a Test match, and then when you think of people like Majid Khan. Then you move on to India Sunil Gavaskar. I played a Test match against Sunil Gavaskar in Madras, which is now called Whats it called? Mark Nicholas: Chennai. Michael Holding: Chennai. It was Madras in my time. Mark Nicholas: And it will be Madras for ever more. Michael Holding: Well, it was a flat pitch. He got 250 runs. When you play against people on those sort of pitches you think that its best to pull a hamstring muscle and get off (Laughter) But in the West Indies team, when youve got people like I.V.A. Richards unbelievable. I stood at the opposite end to him once in a one-day international at Old Trafford and I was in awe. And then in recent times Sachin Tendulkar and of course Brian Charles Lara. I am a big fan of Brian Charles Lara the batsman. People will know other things I am not a big fan of, but as a batsman he was fantastic, the best player of spin bowling and of medium-paced bowling I have ever seen. When I say seen, I am not talking about people that Ive seen or played against, I am talking about him in the West Indies team. I do not think Viv Richards could play spin and medium-paced bowling as well as Brian Lara, but as an allround batsman against everyone, I.V.A. Richards. So you are talking about some outstanding cricketers that I have seen and played with. Mark Nicholas: You have picked batsmen and not bowlers. Im interested Michael Holding: Bowlers, theyre all just Mark Nicholas: They are just the workhorses. They are just the workhorses. Michael Holding: We all know what the game is about, Mark the batting. Mark Nicholas: Kumar, you mentioned Tennakoon, youve talked about Sanath and Mahela. Are there any outside of Sri Lanka that you watched as a boy and thought Yes, Ill have some of that? Kumar Sangakkara: I think again I.V.A. Richards. In Sri Lanka it was strange growing up. I supported the West Indians more than I did the Sri Lankan side, so I was very disappointed once, I think, when we beat the West Indies in a one-day game in Colombo, and I was thinking God, West Indies lost, but I agree with Michael completely. Growing up, Sir Vivian Richards was my idol, but, again, the batsmen I would watch any day there are two. One is Sanath Jayasuriya; the other is Brian Charles Lara. I have never seen two players like them, and I dont think we will again. Mark Nicholas: Straussy? Andrew Strauss: I am not going to be very original here. For me, my formative years growing up I remember Lara getting his 375 against England and then coming to county cricket and getting eight hundreds in a row and that 501, and he was doing stuff that was completely unprecedented in the game of cricket, and he did it in a manner that was so unorthodox. During one of the many rain delays we had in the last month or so there was some footage of him batting in Australia, and I was thinking how can you even begin to coach someone to bat like that. It was all feel, it was all hands, massive movements all round the crease, but he had that touch of genius that allowed him to do anything to any bowler. Thats something that you just cant teach and something that, for those of us who have to grind it out week after week, we always aspire to. Mark Nicholas: Well, we watched you make 150 against India in a one-day in the World Cup. Kumar Sangakkara: Once I was playing a charity game, for the tsunami again, and this was at the MCG and I was in a side that was opposed to Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar, and in 18

my side I had a very senior and great batsman from India, and he was standing at slip and he was talking. Sachin came, batted, got out, left and Brian Lara walks in, and he tells me in a hushed voice This is the guy, this is the man. Hes my favourite batsman, and I said What do you mean? Not Sachin? and he whispers No, its Brian Charles Lara. Mark Nicholas: You will have to break the news to us. We cant all go home not knowing. Youll have to tell us. Who was that senior Indian batsman? Kumar Sangakkara: It was Rahul Dravid. Mark Nicholas: Thank you very much. When Brian Lara played at Durham and got that 501, he got to 15 and he nicked a Durham seamer to Chris Scott, the wicketkeeper, as easy as they come, and it bounced out, and Scott turned to Wayne Larkins at slip and said Oh God, I suppose hell go on and get 100 now 501! Clare, who were the flair players that you watched either on television or live? I dont know if you went much to Hove. Clare Connor: I did, yes. I spent a lot of my childhood sitting at the north-west corner of the ground with my grandfather watching Imran and Garth le Roux bowling in tandem at Hove, which was pretty special. But I think, when I was little as well, watching the highlights of the 1981 Ashes series and watching Botham, and then I used to just watch it over and over on video. It was just fantastic. I was really, really lucky. Some of the greatest names that I grew up watching I was lucky enough to play with. When I stopped playing for England I played about 40 games for Lashings, the Lashings World XI. I played three games with Tendulkar, I played with Ranatunga when we were in the Isle of Wight Ranatunga played for Lashings and Chris Cairns: unbelievable, the real stuff of dreams. To finish playing for England and then to go on and play with those guys was amazing. Mark Nicholas: Ladies and gentlemen, just to remind you, MCC continues to partner the IPL and the Champions League Twenty 20, bringing the Spirit of Cricket message. You might wonder why Twenty20 tournaments. At present theyre the ones that most people watch, and thats the best opportunity to spread the Spirit of Cricket message, and MCC is about to begin a similar association with the new Sri Lankan premier league, and Kumar, I am sure, will be involved in that. At the grass-roots level MCC continues to be involved with the Cricket Foundation and the Chance to Shine initiative. We heard Kumar with the words Play hard, play fair and have fun, and that is the quote that Chance to Shine uses. We coach in the classrooms, there are school competitions, the running of summer camps and pushing the message of respect for the game, for yourself and for your opponent. This year its gone a stage further, and the initiative is going into MCC school assemblies, and players and coaches are talking to assemblies and showing the film that youve seen and then chatting to the kids about our great game. So theres still an awful lot going on with the MCC and Chance to Shine. Weve had a lovely evening. For some of you going to dinner, theres more to come. Weve had a splendid panel Michael Holding, Clare Connor, Andrew Strauss and, and if Adam Gilchrist hadnt been born, I think he would be the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman of them all, but its tight, certainly our greatest lecturer, Kumar Sangakkara. To all of you, thank you. (Applause)