Letter #43: A giant amongst men: #Sanga

Dear Meki,

I hope by now you came to grips with few things mentioned in my last letter to you about adversity and how the one’s with phenomenon character come out of it with heads held high. I couldn’t but help write about one such character whom I have come into close contact with, yet watched with great respect from a distance.

You may have heard me telling you when you were nearing your 4th birthday that if there was a cricketer that you should admire and watch archives of, it would be a guy named ‘Sanga’. I know your mother was not too pleased in me trying to get you interested in ‘cricket’ (bat and ball as you would call it) or go see the ‘Melbourne Cricket Club’, the oldest cricket club in Australia which is in close proximity to where you were staying in 2014/15. Well I don’t yet know who the ‘in form’ Sri Lankan cricketers are in 2029 as you read this, but am sure you would hear or see past records of this gentlemen by the name of ‘Kumar Sangakkara’.

Though your mother would disagree, cricket is not just a sport. Come to think of it, any sport is not just a sport. Each of them builds character if we evaluate each of the components build into the game. I know very well that in addition to the education that you would have pursued over the years, I would have been able to influence you in taking up a few sports activities too while you were schooling. And as you make a few judgements on your own in this coming year as you turn an important milestone in your life, you would keep in mind about a humble gentlemen who shook the world of cricket almost on his own, and how we can take a few lessons from his story and get inspired for the challenges that lie ahead.

You were only 68 days when Sanga was invited to give that quite eloquent Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture at MCC, some of the words which I have even told you by heart when we skyped over the years. I know I make it a bit funny to keep you interested, but those words echo a great deal to the true spirit and testament of our nation which has gone through a lot.

Just like you did, Sanga had a few people in his youth who were able to mentor him and encourage him to achieve world class status by sticking to basics and giving it 100%. Striving for perfection is not a trait that many can endure. Most of us give in, but in matters of adversity, it gives the strong a moment of opportunity to strive for greater glory. Sanga has not always succeeded every time either, neither have I, neither will you. But, when we reflect on the moments before the biggest successes of Sanga, we can easily see a pattern emerge. You might have seen all these records and numbers and stats of this gentlemen, but what sometimes doesn’t show on paper or stats is the struggle of this gentlemen to get to those unbelievable numbers which I hope even in the year 2029, are unbeaten.

You see, the funny thing about Sanga is, more than the world critics, he feared one person more than ever, and that is his father. He would be the one that would be the hardest to go at Sanga even if he scores a double ton, he would be the one that would point at the miscued cut shot. The successes have come through sheer determination to overcome those small imperfections. That is what has made an ordinary human being like him into something of extra ordinary proportions. If we can reflect on his failures and how he got to grips with it, without breaking down, but overcoming by finding the root of the issue, it gives us a valuable lesson to succeed in life. To him, he was able to use this trait to succeed in the job that paid him well, the life sport that he truly loved to be part of, his passion which ignited him to glory.

So Meki, remember that when life gives you trouble, find not a scapegoat in another, but think deep inside yourself and find the root of the problem. As your grandfather once said to me, ‘If there is a problem, there is always a solution’. It is then, that you would be able to blossom into a worldclass, truly admirable character like Sanga, who in my books was a ‘giant amongst men’ of his time.




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