Soon-to-be 50, Arjuna Ranatunga’s journey has been coloured by a variety of strokes. By his own account, he has been a cricketer, politician, businessman, and an insurance broker.
Yet, retiring from cricket was agonising. “It took me three days to decide,” he said, adding that it would have been tougher for Sachin Tendulkar. “Knowing Sachin, he’s just cricket.”
If Ranatunga has his way, Tendulkar’s service to cricket is yet to reach its conclusion. His only hope, as he says, is that the legendary batsman continues to popularise Test cricket after his retirement.
The longest format is the closest to the former World Cup-winning captain’s heart. Dare you mention one of those players who leave Tests to lengthen their adventures in coloured clothing. What about Lasith Malinga, Arjuna?
“I don’t know who he is, or what he’s doing. He was brought up and fed by Sri Lanka cricket. If I’m the Board chairman, I would treat him the way (Kevin) Pietersen was treated.
“You can’t have exceptional, separate people in the team. All are equal. It’s the captain’s job (to control such players). I always said Aravinda de Silva was one of the best cricketers in our country. But, he was treated the same.
“Now, the Board is scared of the players. If they are going to be punished, they go to the politicians. And the politicians get rid of the people who are trying to do the right thing, rather than the players. It’s a chronic situation.”
About the recent controversies surrounding the BCCI, he said: “We have been supported by the BCCI for a long time. But, I have always maintained that it should go under the RTI (Right to Information) Act. It is not answerable to anyone, not even the sports minister. If the Sri Lanka cricket board goes wrong, the minister and the Parliament can control it.”
“When people like Dilip Vengsarkar (Mumbai Cricket Association in 2011) lose elections, it makes you feel insecure about the future of the game. Younger guys listen to senior cricketers, rather than the administrators.”
In light of the IPL’s increasing dominance of the Indian cricketing scene, he said: “We have generally looked up to India and learnt a lot of things. We can’t do that anymore.”