Kumar Sangakkara – MCC Cowdrey Lecture
One of the most polished batsman in recent time, Kumar Sangakkara was known for his calm nature and also his eloquence off the field. Among the many invaluable knocks he had played for Sri Lanka, one of the most important was the MCC Cowdrey Lecture 2011 he delivered at Lord’s. The youngest person, and the first active player ever to be given the honour, Sangakkara delivered a speech like never before.
Within two years of escaping a near-death experience in Pakistan, Sangakara spoke about the conditions in Sri Lanka and how cricket, as a sport helped the peace process. He spoke about the hope the game gave so many of the island nation’s citizens during and after extreme violence. The 2nd highest runner left the audience spell bound as he recounted his days of growing up and learning the game. As seen through his words, the evolutions of cricket in Sri Lanka is exceptional.
The Murali “chucking” incident, the World Cup win, the harrowing experiences of the Tsunami and the attacks on the team bus, all of them he said contributed hugely to taking Sri Lankan cricket to where it is today. It was probably the first time someone spoke so openly about the politics in the nation and how it crept into the game’s administration was probably the first time someone had so openly spoken about the issue. Sangakkara went on to speak about the challenges Sri Lankan cricket faced.
As one of the most influential players of the game ended his speech, saying “ I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. I am today, and always, proudly Sri Lankan.”, there was no doubting that this was on of the most touching sportspersons speeches. It tugged the emotional chords of everyone present.