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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mahela Jayawardene

Farewell to Mahela Jayawardene

Mahela Jayawardene is a unique and rare genius of the highest form of art of batting with the highest degree of natural flamboyance.

Anything that has an in built provision beyond prescribed rules [either comprehensive or curtailing or confining] to allow scope for the extremes of aesthetic exuberance as well the liberty for errant emotions and evolutions is much preferred, more adopted and most appreciated by the majority of human beings because such a thing allows the manifestations and expressions of myriads of human thoughts, aspirations, imaginations, emotions, feelings, psychological states and reactions etc.

The underlining factor is the recognition of boundless variety as an aspect of life and nature. It becomes more exciting and interesting when more elements of uncertainties and unpredictable factors get in to feed to human instincts of suspense and /or surprise leading to multiple changing kaleidoscopes of colorful patterns.  

This applies in almost all domains of life. For example it was precisely for this reason that language scores over art and music as a medium of communication though sometimes music appeals better and deeper to the soul but gets curtailed by the range of the voice/pitch or the permutation combinations of the sounds that the instrument can produce and art strikes an immediate and instinctive chord in a human beings but gets curtailed by the size of the canvass and shades of paints.

When we discuss any game, for example football, tennis, basket ball ,hockey, baseball etc no one can change the size of the playing arena nor can anyone change the number of coins in a chess board or a carom board, but when it comes to cricket there are grounds where the length of the field on square is under 60 ft and there are some where it is more than 80 ft, this coupled with many other variants like the pitch conditions, climatic conditions like windy , rainy etc make the game of cricket with all its formats as glorious, as popular, as pliant, as appealing , as inclusive, as open to change and therefore as expanding as the English language itself.

Sir Neville Cardus puts it aptly, “The laws of cricket tell of the English love of compromise between a particular freedom and a general orderliness, or legality.”

As no critic of English literature can afford to miss reading or quoting from Harold Bloom who sums up very briefly, "Literary criticism, as I attempt to practice it”, in The Anatomy of Influence, "is in the first place literary, that is to say, personal and passionate."

Similarly no critic of any aspect of cricket can afford to miss quoting from Sir Neville Cardus. So this write up will be spiced up with some quotes from him.

I have come to realize that any criticism if it all it has do justice must confine itself to the subject under discussion unmindful of whether it subscribes to the political correctness, societal and cultural acceptance, religious rectitude, prevailing mass mania and/or obsession and many other extraneous considerations.

A good criticism must prove its credentials while subjecting itself to dispassionate objective analysis but at the same time must also be imbued with the passion of romantic subjectivity that the critic savors while analyzing the subject. This is where I like Harold Bloom and Sir Neville Cardus and set my pen to paper to pen down my attempt at criticism.

Then I realized from these two great stalwarts that it was not mere conscious interplay of unloving criticism or uncritical love that made them come out with great works. It was all about critical unbiased analysis based on keen observation, intense love or involvement with passion, and placing the product observed with passion and dealing it with romantic passion and combining it all with aesthetic sensitivity.

Many souls have trod on this path and of those many such souls here I would like to refer to what Harold Bloom did it with literature, Sir Neville Cardus did it with cricket ,Guy Murchie did it with evolutionary biology, psychology, sociology etc and J.Krishnamurthy did it with explorations into the inner self. 

When we do something in this process like those great souls referred above serendipity unravels an atlas of natural beauty and bounty and not one of national boundaries or ideological prisons.

Inspired by these lofty role models I set forth to write about one of the greatest batsman in cricketing history. MAHELA JAYAWARDENE as he has announced his retirement from test cricket as the cliché goes all great things must come to end but how far or how much in depth have we enjoyed the greatness and enlightened ourselves with better appreciation.

Again to quotes Sir Neville Cardus, “We remember not the scores and the results in after years; it is the men who remain in our minds, in our imagination.”

Mahela Jayawardene is a unique and rare genius of the highest form of art of batting with the highest degree of natural flamboyance. Presented in acronym Mahela Jayawardene is

Most Athletic Highly Elegant Lovely Artist of cricket with his Jumping Jabs, Audacious  lofted shots, Yummy late cuts, Adroit placements, Whacking the loose balls coupled with Alacritous Running between the wickets, Deft drives Elegant flicks, Nudges nicely sliced Elegance personified batting bits farewell to test cricket.

In his retirement from test cricket we all will miss one of the greatest cricketer of all times, especially this Most Adroit Hooker Expert in Last minute Adjustments to Judiciously Approach even Yorkers And Wisely flick Around the legs to Run them just beyond the Diving  Extensively  stretched  gloves of  the wicket keeper and Nonchalantly  plays Elegantly and most importantly naturally with both hands with the same power, flamboyance, flexibility etc

Great souls in all spheres of human activity be they artists, saints, scientists, sports persons, philosophers, political leaders, warriors , film heroes etc are all remembered , revered and relished because of the impact, imprint and impression that they left on other souls, and not through statistical data and success factors based on different methods of evaluation, because the soul likes to savor spirit of artistry and it reverberates with its unique innate imprint and improvement  for posterity to remember the contribution such souls make to that particular sphere of activity for eternity.

The first paragraph I ended with an observation ‘plays Elegantly with both hands with the same power, flamboyance, flexibility etc’.

This perhaps is a very subtle technical aspect of cricket, which people with great experience as great batsmen cum observers cum coaches cum commentators like Sunil Gavaskar or Geoffrey Boycott alone can appreciate. Of course because of both excess and expertise in the field of cricket many coaches and cricketers are aware of it and also try to work hard on it [playing elegantly with both hands with the same power, flamboyance, flexibility etc] but for Mahela Jayawardene it was natural. The beauty of this aspect of batting is that it has to a very great extent come naturally and not through nurture.

What is so special about his batting that he must be ranked as one of the greatest unique and rare genius of the art of batting  when statistics  favors the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara etc;  brilliance and brutal attacking and taking the game away from opposition favors the likes of Vivian Richards, Virendra Shewag etc; technical perfection favors the likes of Sunil  Gavaskar, Geoffrey Boycott etc; dogged perseverance, solid defense and ability to stay on to save the game favors the likes Rahul Dravid, Steve Waugh etc; when artistic wrist work favors the like of the great Gary Sobers, V.V.S. Lakshman etc; when turning the game with multiple tricks in batting favors the likes of  Javid Miandad, Michael Bevan etc; when taking  aggression as the mode under any condition favors the likes of Adam Gilchrist, Clive Lloyd etc; when brutal power hitting favors the likes of Chris Gayle, Kiren Pollard etc; when making the bowling side clueless and forced to adopt drastic measures favors the likes of the great Don Bradman; when flamboyance favors all-rounders who were also natural batsmen like Kapil Dev, Ian Botham etc; when new stroke introduction favors the likes of  the helicopter shot specialist Mahenra Singh Dhoni, Scoop shot specialist Dilshan, upper cut Shewag; When sheer elegance favors the likes of Rohan Kanhai, Kalicharan etc; when on drive  specialization favors the likes of Greg Chappell, Mark Waugh, Dilip Vengsarkar etc; when hook shot specialization favors the likes of Roy Fredricks, Gordon Greenidge etc; when square cut favors the likes of G.R. Vishwanath , David boon etc ; when reverse sweep favors the likes of AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell etc; when walking down the wicket and attempting wild hits terrorizing the bowlers favors the likes of Krishnamachary Srikanth, Mathew Hyden etc, what is that which sets him apart and aloft from the rest?

It is his natural flexibility, firmness, finesse, flamboyance and a spontaneous ability to swiftly shift all these qualities from his right hand to left hand and vice versa along with quick reflex combined with a fluency to change naturally the required push and pull of his legs like the train engines, all the while balancing his body like a ballet dancer and keeping his head straight and with all this his ability to appropriately change gears, adopt to different formats, never getting struck on a single mode of playing, nor super imposing or overshadowing other batsmen to make the team to depend too much on him nor clamoring to emerge ever as the super hero of Srilankan cricket, nor attempting to show unwanted bravado even when on a song. There is always a serenity and touch of tender nicety about his batting befitting his name ‘ Mahela as mentioned in the link below []. Incidentally the word Mahela in Arabic I am given to understand through Google means tenderness and/or marrow. He represented the marrow of natural artistic batting.

He has been aptly very often compared to the Kelani river  of Srilanka in terms the multiple value and utility that he has provided to the Sri Lankan team , incidentally for those who may not know the kelani river  supplies major amount of the water used in many parts of Srilanka, used for other purposes like transportation, fishing, sewage disposal, sand mining , hydroelectricity etc

All mortals have some weakness, if there was any in  Mahela it was that sometimes he relied so much on his genius that he was casual to a fault in defending his wicket and at such times he reminded one of  the tennis star Miloslav Mečíř .

I would like to end with two interesting quotes one by Sir Neville Cardus, “Like the British constitution, cricket was not made: it has 'grown'”

There is a widely held and quite erroneously held belief that cricket is just another game.Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh   In Wisden: Cricketers'  Almanack,'The Pleasures of Cricket'.


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