[caption id="attachment_189821" align="alignleft" width="357"] The 14 February Tamil Guardian news item under the title “Boycott Chennai Super Kings - Fans outraged after Sri Lankan army player joins IPL champions.”
By Revatha S. Silva
The player auction of the 2022 Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament came to a close last weekend and controversy erupted when defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK), based in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, joined in its ranks the 21-year-old Sri Lankan off-spinner Maheesh Theekshana.
Social media campaigns had begun immediately after CSK announced Theekshana’s buying at the auction in Bengaluru last Sunday (13). Social media protests #Boycott_ChennaiSuperKings
had started gathering momentum.
That was mainly because Theekshana had represented Sri Lanka Army in the previous domestic tournaments.
May have to pull out
The Army had, as a formality, conferred on him a rank. Yet, hilariously, the former St. Benedict’s College, Colombo player’s actual club is Colts Cricket Club in Colombo which is a multi-racial cricket establishment like many other sports clubs in the island.
One of our sources based in Chennai said last week that there is a possibility that Theekshana might not be able to play in the IPL due to the ongoing protests.
“The matches are to be held only in Mumbai as it is now. But if they are to be moved to Chennai due to easing of the current Covid-19 restrictions, the player may not be able to play. The public sentiment is such that he might have to withdraw. But at the moment, the protests are only in the individual capacity, not in an organised manner,” the source revealed.
Playing in Allirajah’s franchise
Making those protests look more illogical is the fact that Theekshana was a key member of the Jaffna Kings team that won last year’s Lanka Premier League (LPL). The team/franchise is owned by none other than Subaskaran Allirajah.
Allirajah, a British-Tamil entrepreneur, is the founder and chairman of Lycamobile, a telecommunications company. He is also a producer of popular Tamil films, through his entertainment subsidiary Lyca Productions, based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Allirajah’s first film was Kaththi (2014) and the next was a science fiction thriller 2.0 (2018), which is India’s most expensive film and the fifth most expensive non-English-language film at the time of its release. They had been popular in the state of Tamil Nadu and across the region.
A baseless protest?
“The 21-year-old has previously praised the Sri Lankan army, which has been accused of committing mass atrocities and genocide, for its involvement in cricket on the island,” reported The Tamil Guardian
on 14 February 2022 in a news item under the title “Boycott Chennai Super Kings - Fans outraged after Sri Lankan army player joins IPL champions.”
Protesting against Theekhana’s involvement in the IPL for his representation of the Army is like beheading a science teacher for blasphemy. It is only the teacher’s job to teach the theory of gravity!
Cricket is epitome of racial harmony
The report had also mentioned that Theekshana had also “credited head of the Sri Lankan Army Shavendra Silva for helping him in his career, thanking him” referring to a line in an interview appeared in The Sunday Observer
last October when the player was emerging at the national level.
In the same article, the player acknowledges many other individuals, other than Silva, who had helped him in his career. Another trivial matter blown out of proportion!
His hometown Sedawatta in Colombo, most of all, is a place where various ethnicities are living like one family.
In Sri Lanka, the game of cricket has no racial or religious boundaries. Vaas is a Catholic, Murali is a Tamil, Maharoof is a Muslim and all played with Sanath, Aravinda, Arjuna, who are Sinhala Buddhists, like one single family.