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Cricket Balls TALK!



By Rajitha Ratwatte

We had three concurrent test matches last week. Six countries and their elite cricketers on display. How the matches played out and the performance and attitude of the players could have exposed inherent flaws and strengths of the countries and their societies.

India versus Australia in Melbourne at the MCG, the bastion of Australian cricket. India had been unequivocally thrashed the previous week. All out for the lowest test score they had ever, in the history of Indian cricket, ever scored. Their captain had gone home to observe the new political correctness and be at home, with his wife for the birth of their baby. Everything pointed to another annihilation at the hands of the brash, loud and ugly Australian juggernaut. What happened? The stand-in Indian skipper played the innings of his life and that great fast bowler with none of the long smooth run-up to the wicket or even the Olympic sprinter like athleticism associated with great fast bowlers of the past, Jasprit Bumra, aided and abetted by Ashwin someone the Indian selectors have persisted with despite patchy form, delivered! A debutant opening batsman played out of his skin and showed unbelievable maturity in taking the side to the win. India won in circumstances that could only be described as miraculous and totally attributable to the self-belief, quiet confidence and MENTAL STRENGTH of the team and of course the support staff and administration.

Pakistan played New Zealand and from what looked like a hopeless position of being dismissed for a low first innings score and facing a huge Kiwi total, they fought, and they battled their way into the last and fifth day of the test. They even looked like they could make a play for trying to win at one stage and one wished they had, that would have made the gallantry of the effort complete, they lost with less than five overs left in a five-day test match! A 17-year-old no11 batsman on debut playing an uncertain shot after giving a good account of himself and due to no lack of effort on his part. That shot will haunt him and cause many sleepless nights, as is the case with a totally committed player who gives their all, but I trust he will recover.

Neil Wagner of New Zealand bowled a sustained spell with 2 fractured toes and took vital wickets to ensure the win. His captain spoke of him as follows:

People talk about the size of his heart but to have a couple of broken toes… he was in a lot of pain,” man of the match Kane Williamson said. “We were trying to use him when the injection was taking effect. It was kind of unique for all of us but in particular Neil.

“To keep coming out and wanting to contribute, his appetite and motivation to try to make a difference for the team is huge and we haven’t seen it any bigger than the effort he put in across this test match.

“It was a very, very special effort from Wags, one that the team appreciated. We needed him out there and he delivered.”

On the subject of balls, those folks are “cohunes”, as the Mexican say. That is why and how New Zealand has survived and even if I dare say it, thrived through the Corona pandemic. The responsibility and the commitment of her people to ensure that the team of five million, as the PM called it, would succeed with every single member contributing to their utmost.

Of course, you know by now where this article is heading! To our dismal, pathetic and abject performance against the Proteas. Just look at the expressions on the faces of the Lankan players I say! They looked like the proverbial “stunned mullets”. Stunned mullets who thrive on dissipation. Kasun Rajitha, who is no debutant 17-year-old, batted like he had never held a bat in his hand before, during the first innings and then, of course, broke down after a few balls of his opening spell with a mysterious groin strain. When we were 9 wickets down and needing something like 2 runs to establish the highest total ever achieved by a subcontinental team in South Africa, no one could be found to come and at least hang around at the non-striker’s end and GIVE IT A GO. Remember Colin Cowdrey coming out to bat with an arm in Plaster and of course Neil Wagner bowling pace with two broken toes! The same drugs available to Wagner would have been available to a certain star batsman who was lounging in the dressing room with his thigh strapped up and a sickly grin on his face with “retired hurt” against his name on the scorecard! Chandimal I am told is also having a groin strain, I wonder if it is contagious, in fact, may be a symptom of another variety of Covid?!! Of course, it could be a symptom that looks more and more prevalent among our bunch of highly paid and absolutely uncommitted cricketers, a symptom of having done enough to ensure a place in the team for the next series and hence having no desire to risk botching their record or average. BTW during a recent discussion on the utter uselessness of our cricket team, someone proposed a new player of the decade award to one of our very own. Angelo Mathews to be given the award for the most injured player of the decade! Remember the days of Alex Kontori as physio? The heydays of our cricket, we had hardly any injuries and if it could be done once, of course, it can be done again. Alex was so good that the Aussies took him back! Lack of fitness and fielding skills cannot be excused. It only takes application, commitment and unrelenting hours of practice to excel at these things.

Of course, no one will take responsibility. I see so many officials hanging around on tour, no doubt travelling and paid for on cricket board funds. What is their purpose? What do they contribute? Or is it their God-given right to enjoy these privileges just because they made innocuous contributions to mediocre teams in the past? I don’t see too many of our world cup winning teams members among the officials or even team members from those that featured in two other world cup finals. The second test is on at the time of writing. A disastrous start seems to have been somewhat rectified but a change in the result is still very much in doubt. Meanwhile the English cricket team has arrived in the Pearl. Yes, the ENGLISH, that is the country that has a new and extremely virulent strain of the virus. Are we gluttons for punishment or are we so desperate for money that the TV payment will make a difference? On the other hand keeping the public distracted may be a motive. Let’s hope reducing the population isn’t!

And that dear readers is the Patheticity (another new word!) of our dearly beloved, ex-pearl of the Indian ocean, in a nutshell. We do not have the cohunes (read as cricket balls), we do not have the commitment and we do not have the leadership to even give a decent account of ourselves on a cricket field. Even the 330 million Gods who according to legend look after our land will find it hard to save us from where we are heading now. We had it in the not too distant past but all those who showed us how to do it are discarded or have chosen to follow more lucrative paths. It is difficult to blame them (although a modicum of blame does exist in my heart) because pure patriotism in the face of pure unadulterated Moronism (another one!) from a spineless, characterless, stupid society is a mug’s game!



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Terror figuring increasingly in Russian invasion of Ukraine



In yet another mind-numbing manifestation of the sheer savagery marking the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a shopping mall in Ukraine’s eastern city of Kremenchuk was razed to the ground recently in a Russian missile strike. Reportedly more than a hundred civilian lives were lost in the chilling attack.

If the unconscionable killing of civilians is a definition of terrorism, then the above attack is unalloyed terrorism and should be forthrightly condemned by all sections that consider themselves civilized. Will these sections condemn this most recent instance of blood-curdling barbarism by the Putin regime in the Ukrainian theatre and thereby provide proof that the collective moral conscience of the world continues to tick? Could progressive opinion be reassured on this score without further delay or prevarication?

These issues need to be addressed with the utmost urgency by the world community. May be, the UN General Assembly could meet in emergency session for the purpose and speak out loud and clear in one voice against such wanton brutality by the Putin regime which seems to be spilling the blood of Ukrainian civilians as a matter of habit. The majority of UNGA members did well to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine close on the heels of it occurring a few months back but the Putin regime seems to be continuing the civilian bloodletting in Ukraine with a degree of impunity that signals to the international community that the latter could no longer remain passive in the face of the aggravating tragedy in Ukraine.

The deafening silence, on this question, on the part of those sections the world over that very rightly condemn terror, from whichever quarter it may emanate, is itself most intriguing. There cannot be double standards on this problem. If the claiming of the lives of civilians by militant organizations fighting governments is terror, so are the Putin regime’s targeted actions in Ukraine which result in the wanton spilling of civilian blood. The international community needs to break free of its inner paralysis.

While most Western democracies are bound to decry the Russian-inspired atrocities in Ukraine, more or less unambiguously, the same does not go for the remaining democracies of the South. Increasing economic pressures, stemming from high energy and oil prices in particular, are likely to render them tongue-tied.

Such is the case with Sri Lanka, today reduced to absolute beggary. These states could be expected ‘to look the other way’, lest they be penalized on the economic front by Russia. One wonders what those quarters in Sri Lanka that have been projecting themselves as ‘progressives’ over the years have to say to the increasing atrocities against civilians in Ukraine. Aren’t these excesses instances of state terror that call for condemnation?

However, ignoring the Putin regime’s terror acts is tantamount to condoning them. Among other things, the failure on the part of the world community to condemn the Putin government’s commissioning of war crimes sends out the message that the international community is gladly accommodative of these violations of International Law. An eventual result from such international complacency could be the further aggravation of world disorder and lawlessness.

The Putin regime’s latest civilian atrocities in Ukraine are being seen by the Western media in particular as the Russian strongman’s answer to the further closing of ranks among the G7 states to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the issues growing out of it. There is a considerable amount of truth in this position but the brazen unleashing of civilian atrocities by the Russian state also points to mounting impatience on the part of the latter for more positive results from its invasion.

Right now, the invasion could be described as having reached a stalemate for Russia. Having been beaten back by the robust and spirited Ukrainian resistance in Kyiv, the Russian forces are directing their fire power at present on Eastern Ukraine. Their intentions have narrowed down to carving out the Donbas region from the rest of Ukraine; the aim being to establish the region as a Russian sphere of influence and buffer state against perceived NATO encirclement.

On the other hand, having failed to the break the back thus far of the Ukraine resistance the Putin regime seems to be intent on demoralizing the resistance by targeting Ukraine civilians and their cities. Right now, most of Eastern Ukraine has been reduced to rubble. The regime’s broad strategy seems to be to capture the region by bombing it out. This strategy was tried out by Western imperialist powers, such as the US and France, in South East Asia some decades back, quite unsuccessfully.

However, by targeting civilians the Putin regime seems to be also banking on the US and its allies committing what could come to be seen as indiscretions, such as, getting more fully militarily and physically involved in the conflict.

To be sure, Russia’s rulers know quite well that it cannot afford to get into a full-blown armed conflict with the West and it also knows that the West would doing its uttermost to avoid an international armed confrontation of this kind that could lead to a Third World War. Both sides could be banked on to be cautious about creating concrete conditions that could lead to another Europe-wide armed conflict, considering its wide-ranging dire consequences.

However, by grossly violating the norms and laws of war in Ukraine Russia could tempt the West into putting more and more of its financial and material resources into strengthening the military capability of the Ukraine resistance and thereby weaken its economies through excessive military expenditure.

That is, the Western military-industrial complex would be further bolstered at the expense of the relevant civilian publics, who would be deprived of much needed welfare expenditure. This is a prospect no Western government could afford to countenance at the present juncture when the West too is beginning to weaken in economic terms. Discontented publics, growing out of shrinking welfare budgets, could only aggravate the worries of Western governments.

Accordingly, Putin’s game plan could very well be to subject the West to a ‘slow death’ through his merciless onslaught on the Ukraine. At the time of writing US President Joe Biden is emphatic about the need for united and firm ‘Transatlantic’ security in the face of the Russian invasion but it is open to question whether Western military muscle could be consistently bolstered amid rising, wide-ranging economic pressures.

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At 80, now serving humanity



Thaku Chugani! Does this name ring a bell! It should, for those who are familiar with the local music scene, decades ago.

Thaku, in fact, was involved with the original group X-Periments, as a vocalist.

No, he is not making a comeback to the music scene!

At 80, when Engelbert and Tom Jones are still active, catering to their fans, Thaku is doing it differently. He is now serving humanity.

Says Thaku: “During my tenure as Lion District Governor 2006/2007, Dr Mosun Faderin and I visited the poor of the poorest blind school in Ijebu Ode Ogun state, in Nigeria.

“During our visit, a small boy touched me and called me a white man. I was astonished! How could a blind boy know the colour of my skin? I was then informed that he is cornea blind and his vision could be restored if a cornea could be sourced for him. This was the first time in my life that I heard of a cornea transplant. “

And that incident was the beginning of Thaku’s humanity service – the search to source for corneas to restore the vision of the cornea blind.

It was in 2007, when Dr Mosun and Thaku requested Past International President Lion Rohit Mehta, who was the Chief Guest at MD 404 Nigeria Lions convention, at Illorin, in Nigeria, to assist them in sourcing for corneas as Nigeria was facing a great challenge in getting any eye donation, even though there was an established eye bank.

“We did explain our problems and reasons of not being able to harvest corneas and Lion Rohit Metha promised to look into our plea and assured us that he will try his utmost best to assist in sourcing for corneas.”

Nigeria, at that period of time, had a wait list of over 70 cornea blind children and young adults.

“As assured by PIP Lion Rohit Mehta, we got an email from Gautam Mazumdar, and Dr. Dilip Shah, of Ahmedabad, in India, inviting us for World Blind Day

“Our trip was very fruitful as it was World Blind Day and we had to speak on the blind in Nigeria.”

“We were invited by Gautam Mazumdar to visit his eye bank and he explained the whole process of eye banking.

“We requested for corneas and also informed him about our difficulties in harvesting corneas.

“After a long deliberation, he finally agreed to give us six corneas. It was a historical moment as we were going to restore vision of six cornea blind children. To me, it was a great experience as I was privileged to witness cornea transplant in my life and what a moment it was for these children, when their vision was restored.

“Thus began my journey of sight restoration of the cornea blind, and today I have sourced over 1000 corneas and restored vision of the cornea blind in Nigeria, Kenya and India till date.

“Also, I need to mention that this includes corneas to the armed forces, and their family, all over India.

“On the 12th, August, 2018, the Eye Bank, I work with, had Launched Pre-Cut Corneas, which means with one pair of eyes, donated, four Cornea Blind persons sight will be restored.”

Thaku Chugani, who is based in India, says he is now able to get corneas regularly, but, initially, had to carry them personally – facing huge costs as well as international travel difficulties, etc.

However, he says he is so happy that his humanitarian mission has been a huge success.

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Health services face imminent collapse due to fuel crisis



A file picture of a recent doctors’ protest


MBBS(Cey), DCH(Cey), DCH(Eng), MD(Paed), MRCP(UK), FRCP(Edin), FRCP(Lon), FRCPCH(UK), FSLCPaed, FCCP, Hony FRCPCH(UK), Hony. FCGP(SL)

Specialist Consultant Pediatrician and Honorary Senior Fellow, Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Our free National Health Service is something that brings succor to the poorest of the poor, as well as even the well-to-do, and everybody in-between. As a country and a nation, we are so proud of our health services. In fact, as a developing country, we have shown the entire world how much can be accomplished, even with our meager resources, and with so few facilities made available to us in our health facilities. Our healthcare personnel are second to none anywhere else on the planet, and they try to do their best, even under trying circumstances.

There are shortages of medicines, disposable articles and equipment in our healthcare institutions. It has really gotten worse during the current economic crisis. Yet, we have managed to rise above all that, innovate, beg, borrow and do our best for the patients who come to us. Generally, our health workers will not allow a life to be lost without a fight. A case in point is how these personnel, from the lowest-ranked to the highest, rose and fought tooth and nail during the current COVID-19 pandemic. They worked without any worthwhile rest, even foregoing their meals when things had to be done to save lives. Our countrymen and countrywomen hailed us as their saviours, singing hosannas to all of them for so selflessly handling the crisis. The healthcare personnel showed results and they sacrificed many things and went through hell on earth, to save lives.

However, there is a looming dragon that is likely to inflict telling blows to cripple this hallowed service that is provided for our people. It is not due to shortages of drugs or equipment. Those can be handled to the very best of our abilities. The problem is due to severe human resource depletion that is the likely result of the current fuel shortage. It is a looming catastrophe, as large as life, where our healthcare personnel will not be able to get to their places of work, and they will not be able to respond to sudden emergencies, as there is no transport. The government, ministers and all other stupid politicians do not seem to realise this, and perhaps could not even care less about that. That is of course to be expected, as they have their agendas. They will somehow get their things done, but the people who suffer would be the poor who come to our hospitals.

However, the most distressing thing about this entire fiasco is how among our general public, the thugs, ruffians, desperados, those engaged in nefarious hoarding of fuel and all kinds of Mafias, are beginning to treat healthcare personnel at fuel queues and fuel sheds. Healthcare personnel are not asking for special treatment at fuel stations. They are an absolutely essential service, and all they are asking is for some fuel to enable them to attend to their essential service provisions. Even ambulances have to wait in queues, and are not allowed by the irate public to get priority for fuel.

A couple of weeks ago we saw in the news that a lady doctor driver was driven away from a fuel station by a mob. The most distressing thing about that entire episode was the bravado of a non-health staff lady driver, who shouted with powerful gesticulation of her arms that she had children in the car and could not make concessions to lady doctors. God forbid, but what if one of those children suddenly fell ill and the person to attend to them was the very same lady doctor who was chased away, and that person was not able to get to the hospital due to the lack of fuel?

Starting from Friday the 24th of June 2022, there was a lukewarm arrangement made to provide fuel to essential services, from certain designated fuel stations. every Friday. This was not communicated properly through all the media, and in very many places the public vehemently objected to this. The Borella junction Ceypetco fuel shed was one of the stations which were allocated for this purpose, where the essential services people, including healthcare personnel, queued up in their vehicles from around 6.00 am. The bowsers of fuel arrived only in the late evening, after a 12-hour long wait. There was hardly any security cover and virtually a free for all, with the sparse security personnel turning a blind eye to all the misdemeanors of the general public. There were loads of nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers from the National Hospital, Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children, National Eye Hospital, De Soysa Maternity Hospital and the Castle Street Hospital for Women, who were in these vehicle queues, twiddling their thumbs and being forced to keep away from their places of work. No doubt, these hospitals worked with only minimal skeleton staff. All these hospitals have a collective staff strength running into very large numbers, all working in an absolutely vital essential service. In some outstation areas, the incensed public insisted on the healthcare personnel queuing up with the general public, even on that dedicated Friday, and at least in one area, the hospital had to be closed as most of the hospital staff had to be in fuel queues. For whatever it is worth, this writer has not been able to see his patients for more than a week due to lack of fuel.

Unless a proper system to provide fuel to essential services is implemented by this impotent government, this situation will go from bad to worse. Many hospitals will have to be closed, not due to strikes or trade union actions, but due to a lack of human resources to run the hospitals. Medical personnel will not be able to attend to emergencies, especially outside working hours, and many lives will be lost. Our inability to provide timely treatment could also lead to some patients being maimed for life.

So be warned, our people of our own country. Selfishness and scant regard for law and order on the part of the general public will lead to an unprecedented catastrophe. There will be riots inside and outside the medical institutions with damage to public property. Innocent lives will be lost and blood will necessarily have to be on the hands of the decision-makers and the powers-that-be.

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