Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Advocate Kumar Chokshanada Sangakkara

I don't remember clearly but I guess it was around 12 years back, when I first started watching cricket. I did not even know its official name and would ask around my friends in the evening, "Hey, lets play Bat-Ball!". The turning point was India's win in the Natwest 2002 final against England. This was followed by the 2002 Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka.

Pronouncing and deciphering the names of Sri Lankan cricketers had always been a uphill task for me. That day was no different as Jayasuria, instead of his regular partner Attapattu, came out to open with someone called Kumara Sangakkara. Yea, the first name was fine, apart from me wondering as a curious 11 years old North Indian child that it should have been at the end rather than the beginning. I was eagerly waiting for Dean Jones to start with the usual, "At the non-striker's end, we have the 22 years old ........" and so on. I was all ears but for obvious reasons, I really didn't get how to go about that last name.

But, the one thing in the introduction which amazed me like anything was that the new comer was a student of law. Cricketers for me untill then, were outstanding sportsmen who never stood anywhere near the Kalams, the Einsteins, and the Palkhivaalas. One obvious reason was the Master Blaster who led this child to believe that one had to mess up with studies if he had to be of his level.

The so called non-striker who was facing the pacy Zaheer Khan hit his very first ball away for four. Although, just three in number, they hit this Team India fan in the face like anything, but stunned my "want-to-become-a-lawyer-aspirations" like anything. It was all because of the little knowledge and understandings I had as a kid then. For me, Sanga (or Sanga Sir as we say in law schools) was turning out to be an epitome of a big shot lawyer who was an excellent cricketer as well. Before that, I had hardly come across practical examples of people both good at sports and academics simultaneously. Neither they existed in school, nor at home. I always figured in the top five of the class for the highest marks and in the bottom five in sports. 

But that day was turning out to be phenomenal. Of course, because of my limited awareness I did not foresee the possibilities that Sanga must have been college dropout, or would have just joined law to easily sneak in for a graduation degree etc etc. Well, his attitude in batting was not at all a fluke. He derived confidence from his so called academic profession. This was reflected in the new decade of the new millenium which followed and which turned out to be an era of revival and upliftment in Sri Lankan Cricket history. Sri Lanka made it to as many as four world cup finals of the ICC, Sanga being the captain in two of them.

The cameo at the Champions Trophy was followed by Sri Lanka's dream run at the 2003 World Cup next year. They could not reach beyond the semi final but Sanga again had a significant role to play, and how he shattered away and bundled the confidence of Shaun Pollock in a cheeky cum. sarcastic manner is still very much fresh in the minds of ardent cricket fans.

The first decade of the new millennium came to an end. In the meantime, the volumes and plethora of records, achievements etc. which became synonymous with his name were simply uncountable. Sangakkara won the top prize at 2012's ICC awards, in addition to the award for Test Cricketer of the Year and the People's Choice award for the second year running. Later that year he confirmed himself among batting's modern greats, by becoming the equal fastest man to 10,000 Test runs alongside Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, with the biggest Test crowd Sri Lanka had ever played for in audience, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. His blade over the years had been equally mighty as his words. 

But all this did not change the man. He was still the same. With the onset of the new decade, he became a role model for youngsters, brought with him a unique blend of experience, aggression and maturity. Inspite of all the fame and glory, he kept touching the stars with his feet always on the ground. 

He became the first Sri Lankan cricketer ever to deliver the prestigious 2011MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture. He delivered an exceptional speech touching on the history, culture and opportunties for Sri Lankan cricket along with recounting of the terrorist attack on their team bus in Pakistan.

A day later The Guardian, UK, quoted

"Sangakkara's address in the MCC's annual Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey lecture has been dubbed the most courageous speech in cricket history, and courageous speeches tend to have consequences."

""Incredible," muttered the old MCC member sitting behind me, his voice cracking in disbelief as the applause died down. Listening to him, it struck me how well Kumar Sangakkara's speech had gone down. Especially as just an hour earlier the same man had confessed that he had no idea who Sangakkara was. "Incredible, incredible," he continued. "It's incredible how long he has been talking. How long did he go on for?""

The humble and modest manner in which he related cricket to the various small and big aspects of a common man's life left an indelible mark on my memory. The success of professional life, the celebrity status etc. has not in any manner detached him from his roots. He greets and hugs victories with a broad smile, accepts defeats in whole heartedly in a very sporting manner, not to forget his speech in the presentation ceremony after his team lost to India in the 2011 World cup final. The person indeed has evolved as rare combination of both a sportsman and a spokesperson. We as law students have so much to learn from his charisma and his continuing success stories.

"It is hugely disappointing but satisfying as well in a strange sense because we understand the magnitude of what we've done to get here, we can be proud of the way we played our cricket. We tried exceptionally hard to win games, but today unfortunately we couldn't convert."

"India were a step ahead of us. Their batting is unbelievable. They probably have the best top seven in ODI cricket."
Law as a career gives you more than enough confidence and bundle of opportunities to build up and command self respect and live with dignity, gain wholesome perspective of the things which are not even related to you and your day to day activities in any sense. You become capable of managing multiple things at a time (Sanga's case is no different, it included all high priority jobs like batting at the top, wicketkeeping, captaincy and at last to be the goodwill ambassador of Sri Lankan Cricket)

The purpose of this post is not the marketing of Sanga or Sri Lankan Cricket. Its just about drawing an analogy from the life of someone who started almost like us, is still going almost like us and uses his academic skills of speaking to make the best out of his passion. The conclusion is manifold in nature. It is not at all difficult to manage your studies with your passions. Winning and losing either in courts, or be it anywhere else shall continue to happen for the rest of our lives. Its upon us how well we greet them, treat them, learn from them and then bounce back again. Times of success, glory as well as those of despair and defeat are always   momentary in nature. The amount hard work required to stay at the top is multiple times more than that required to reach there. The essence of any such journey, be it law or cricket, which is always going to so full of ups and downs lies in always remaining grounded while striving your best to touch the stars.

Above all, what always matters, whenever and wherever you speak is your content, quality and confidence, not your flamboyance, showoff, your ability to faff and your over-confidence. 

Moreover, being a helping hand, guide and leader like support to others to touch those stars will always be far more mentally satisfying rather than getting carried away by pleasures of momentary success. To be very honest, as keen follower and worshiper of Indian Cricket it was really difficult, to go so much off the track and write this post. I tried my best to look beyond and realized very well that Sanga's actions do speak louder than his words. All I can say is that, we need such kind of sportspersons and lawyers more than any moment in history now.

P.S.: The author can be reached herehere.

More about Sanga herehere. The Cowdrey lecture is herehere. A must watch World Cup 2011 post match speech by Sanga is here and its coverage is here.

No comments:

Post a Comment