On July 4, 2011, at the invitation of the MCC, Kumar Sangakkara, the former Captain of the Sri Lankan Cricket Team, delivered the Cowdrey Lecture at Lord’s titled “The Spirit of Sri Lanka’s Cricket – A Celebration of Our Uniqueness”.
Kumar Sangakkara is a rare example of a sportsman who provides revelations on and off the field. In this speech, Kumar Sangakkara, the former Trinitian, born in Matale in 1977, exposes an intellectual’s grasp of his subject and his passion for cricket. The eloquent cricketer surmises, in a nutshell, the history of Sri Lankan cricket from its inception to the current scenario over there.
This speech has been acclaimed and praised by all cricketers and lovers of the game of cricket all over the world for its outspoken, critical view of the game of cricket in Sri Lanka. No one else could have said this better than Kumar Sangakkara.
I am presenting here in my blog the video of Sangakkara’s hour-long speech in seven parts accompanied by its transcript.
Transcript of Kumar Sangakkara’s speech
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 year’s lecture. I was initially hesitant given the fact 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 not only a great honour 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 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 spot-fixing. All of 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 game’s history and that unless we better sustain Test cricket, embrace technology enthusiastically, protect the game’s global governance from narrow self-interest, and more aggressively root out corruption, then 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 Lanka’s cricket, a journey that I am sure Colin would have enjoyed greatly because I don’t 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 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.
- Kumar Sangakkara’s Cowdrey Lecture: “The Spirit of Sri Lanka’s Cricket” (Part 2 of 7) (tvaraj.com)
- Kumar Sangakkara’s Cowdrey Lecture: “The Spirit of Sri Lanka’s Cricket” (Part 3 of 7) (tvaraj.com)
- Kumar Sangakkara’s Cowdrey Lecture: “The Spirit of Sri Lanka’s Cricket” (Part 4 of 7) (tvaraj.com)
- Kumar Sangakkara’s Cowdrey Lecture: “The Spirit of Sri Lanka’s Cricket” (Part 5 of 7) (tvaraj.com)
- Kumar Sangakkara’s Cowdrey Lecture: “The Spirit of Sri Lanka’s Cricket” (Part 6 of 7) (tvaraj.com)
- Kumar Sangakkara’s Cowdrey Lecture: “The Spirit of Sri Lanka’s Cricket” (Part 7 of 7) (tvaraj.com)
- Uniqueness of Sangakkara’s MCC speech (ceylontoday.lk)
- Cricket World Cup: Sri Lanka hoping to repeat triumph