Sometimes you read something and you remember why started doing this all in the first place.
North of Colombo there is a town called Chilaw. There is an ancient Hindu temple in Chilaw that was once visited by Gandhi. Every year they have the Munneswaram festival. It was once famous for pearls. And they have a first-class cricket team: the Chilaw Marians Cricket Club.
Shaminda Eranga comes from Chilaw.
Like many in Sri Lanka, the cricketers from Chilaw are largely invisible inside the system. There are Test-quality cricketers playing on the streets of the Hikkaduwa right now that will never play with a hard cricket ball in their life.
Eranga was not playing first-class cricket. He was not in the system. He shouldn’t have made it at all. But like his seam-bowling partner Nuwan Pradeep, he made his way to a fast-bowling competition. He bowled fast. But five guys bowled faster. Somehow the sixth-fastest bowler in that completion was picked for Chilaw Marians Cricket Club. Five years later he would clean bowl Brad Haddin with his second ball in international cricket.
Eranga is the closest thing Chilaw has produced to a pearl in a very long time.
Cricket is a bat and ball sport existing on the fringes of everything. But it inspires the best sportswriting on earth. Period. And Jarrod is one of the best. He writes about cricket the way cricket is supposed to be played: with abandon, freedom and caution. He swashbuckles like a West Indian seamer, yet he can also block like an English nightwatchman.
I find pieces like Jarrod’s inspiring – they remind me that cricket is a game that deserves respect from those that are lucky enough to write about it. It’s a marvelous game filled with escape tunnels and villains and turncoats and heroes riding into battle. It’s poetry and it’s madness. It has characters that no fiction writer could possibly imagine given a thousand years. And when we write about it, we need to give it its due.
Our work can’t be phoned in. Cricket deserves better than that. For the game’s legacy is determined not in the actions of the players on the field or the supporters in the stands, it is determined by those that write about it. Journalists, editors, bloggers…all of us hold cricket’s legacy in our hands.
Jarrod Kimber is providing this game we love with a legacy that will last a thousand years. And we need to do the same.