I have been bemoaning the poor sportsmanship that is everywhere visible and how it has also encroached the once-genteel world of cricket where ‘sledging’ and generally churlish behavior have become increasingly common. So it is a pleasure for me to report on an incident of good sportsmanship that I observed yesterday.
It occurred on the second day of the second Test match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand played in Wellington. At the end of the first day, Sri Lanka was reeling with a score of 78 for 5 wickets in response to New Zealand’s modest score of 221. But the veteran Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara batted through most of the second day, playing with a grim determination mixed with flashes of brilliance and scored a mammoth 203 runs out of a Sri Lankan total of 356 before getting out to an outstanding catch by Trent Boult.
Upon his dismissal, it was nice to see all the New Zealand cricketers going up to shake his hand and congratulate him and the New Zealand home crowd giving him a warm and generous standing ovation as he walked back to the pavilion, even though he had completely changed the fortunes of the game against the home team. A great performance by a great player should be something that gladdens the heart of any fan of any sport, even if the effort is against your own side, and the New Zealand players and fans must be commended for showing true sportsmanship.
It has been some time since I watched a five-day Test cricket match for large blocks of time and I had forgotten how absorbing it can be. The time difference with New Zealand makes it particularly convenient to watch, since according to US Eastern time, the day’s play begins at 5:00 pm and ends at midnight, and so I have been following the Test series there. There is something about the rhythm of the game, its overall slow tempo mixed with flashes of intense excitement, the graceful style of a great batsman countering the smooth delivery of good fast bowlers and the guile of the spinners, that is truly engrossing to the aficionado.