The Spirit of Cricket
Tariq Ali · Homage to Sangakkara
‘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 the 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.