WHEN I MET KUMAR SANGAKKARA…
My favorite cricketer turns another year older today, and I am writing this not just as a birthday wish but as a fan tribute – What happened when his biggest fan (In India) met Kumar Sangakkara!
NOTE: It’s a straight from the heart fan piece, very fangirly in nature!
I have been attending every international and IPL match he has played in Mumbai for some years now (with the exception of the World Cup finals) and have been trying to get an audience with him. However that never bore fruit till 21st September, 2013. It wasn’t a chance meeting, I won a contest! There was a #MeetSangakkaratSmaaash contest conducted by Smaaash, Mumbai and one of my friends, who goes by the Twitter handle @Arey_Yaar brought it to my notice. I immediately jumped at the chance and started writing…
Following is my written entry to the contest on “Why I should get an opportunity to meet Kumar Sangakkara?”
“ICC Cricketer of the Year, ICC People's choice Player of the year, youngest MCC Spirit of cricket lecturer, one of 2012’s Wisden Cricketer of the Year, former Sri Lankan captain and currently the fourth best Test batsman – Kumar Chokshanada Sangakkara.
I consider myself to be one of Kumar Sangakkara's biggest fans and over the years have watched Sri lanka & Sunrisers Hyderabad matches just to see him bat & even supported him over my home team. There is something special about watching a southpaw bat & Sanga has always been one of the most elegantly entertaining batsman, especially when plays his trademark cover drive. And I am not saying it from a prejudiced fan's perspective, his statistics speak for themselves. Sangakkara has scored over 22,000 runs with the distinction of having the highest batting average at the Number 3 position after the legendary Sir Don Bradman.
His gift of gab has always been as popular as the video of him sledging Shaun Pollock at the World Cup match in 2003 as well as his gracious talk after losing the World Cup in 2011. But what I appreciate the most is the conviction in his words that reflects his passion for his craft and the love for his motherland as seen in the MCC Spirit of Cricket Lecture 2011. His goal has always been to protect cricket, which in his civil war-affected country, occupies a place of pride as a “panacea that heals all wounds” in his own words. He has been courageous to bring to light all the overt operations which threatened to tarnish the game he holds beloved and has taken a stand against the forces of power back home. It takes great courage to go against the organization that employs you to bring out the truth.
Personally for me he is among the greatest to have played the game, not just for his on field laurels but also for his off field achievements. He is my greatest sporting role model & I look up to him for his passion, dedication & sheer personality. My love for Sanga has always been a defining part of my identity, finding a way in my Xaviers Graduation Yearbook as well, where I was described as Mrs. Kumar Sangakkara, an epithet the entire Twitterverse already knows me by. From my family & friends to my professors and colleagues, all know me as the girl who loves Sanga more than any Sri Lankan. I have written numerous blogs about him & have been to every game he has played in Mumbai. However I have never got the opportunity to meet him upfront and interact with him, an unrequited dream which I now have the hope of fulfilling thanks to this wonderful contest by Smaaash. I sincerely request you to please give me this chance to meet my cricketing idol and make my biggest dream come true! Thanks!”
Needless to say that mine was the first name on the list of winners!!
On the day, I was waiting with my sister when I first saw him up close, and cheesy as it sounds, I did stop breathing for a moment so he literally took my breath away! And then it was my turn to go interact with him. The first thing I said was ‘Aywobuwan’ (hello in Sinhalese, thanks to my favorite Sri lankan girl @Yoshitha_k ) which got an appreciative ‘Nice!’ from him. He then asked if I was from Mumbai and what did I do? Small talk and an autograph later, I asked him something I’ve always wanted to know - does he really read Oscar Wilde & quote his Irish wit to people (a sly reference to his exchange with Kallis) To which he replied, “Yes of course, I do enjoy reading Oscar Wilde” Unfortunately by then it was time for the next person to meet him so I had to say goodbye. But not before he said it was a pleasure to meet me!
Although it was just a few minutes of interaction, it was a huge deal! All my adult life as a cricket fan I have spoken of little else other than meeting Kumar Sangakkara - my most favorite cricketer, my idol & my unabashed cricketing crush! Everyone has admired, idolized & been obsessed with a celebrity at some point, but when you are among the chosen few who get to not only meet but also interact with your idol & crush, it reminds you of how blessed & lucky you are! Thanks to everyone who believed that I deserved to & would meet Sanga. When I look back, I realize I have been extremely fortunate to meet both my cricketing loves (Binga & Sanga). 21st September, 2013 – indeed a day to remember…. Till I meet Sangakkara again!