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The Spirit of Cricket


‘What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?’ The Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara, giving the Spirit of Cricket lecture at Lords a few days ago, answered this question – first posed by C.L.R. James in Beyond a Boundary half a century ago – at length and in some detail. It was a virtuoso performance that linked cricket to the history and politics of the island. It was witty, intelligent and, above all, courageous. Sangakkara’s assault on the cricketing establishment (the Ministry of Sport) of his own country is a model for others to follow. Listening to the speech I wondered whether there was any other practising cricketer in the world today who could have made it. Not a single name sprang to mind. Much of what Sangakkara said about corruption also applies to the other cricketing nations of South Asia, not to mention the West Indies. A few lessons could be learned in England too, where the obsession with money threatens to damage the game. Cricketers everywhere should pay attention to Sangakkara’s words: they have a little money to lose, but a great game to save.

Comments on “The Spirit of Cricket”

  1. Martin says:

    I agree that Sangakkara spoke brilliantly. But I disagree with one thing he said – maybe I didn’t understand him correctly, though. He said that no other Test team selection is subject to political interference in the way that Sri Lanka’s is. The South African team certainly is, although not for the same reasons. And I thought Pakistan team selections were shambolic exactly because of political interference. Yet other dynamics play out in the West Indies, although those are more at a cricketing board level. Or not?

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