'T20 may affect cricket well-being'
Arjuna Ranatunga is rated as one of the finest cricket captains of all time and now, wearing an administrator's hat, the Sri Lankan is worried about the well-being of the game in the era of Twenty20 razzmatazz.
"It needs only eleven mucks to win Twenty20 games. Even in ODI cricket you need seven to eight intelligent players and a captain while in T20 you need only power-hitters. You don't even need a good captain," said the 44-year-old Chairman of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board in Mumbai on Monday night.
Although the Twenty20 revolution has brought in unimaginable amount of money into the game, especially to the players with the introduction of the billion-dollar Indian Premier League (IPL), Ranatunga said that he was concerned about the health of the game.
"I agree players were underpaid and deserved to get more. But tell me, is T20 good for the game? My concern is more for the game. I'm afraid that in future everyone would like to become only batsmen and there won't be many willing to take up bowling," said the left-hander who represented his country in 93 Tests and 269 ODIs between 1992 and 2000.
Ranatunga, who led Lanka to the 1996 World Cup triumph with his imaginative captaincy and manamangement skills, pointed out the examples of cricket greats Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid to prove his point about his harsh views on T20 cricket.
"Sachin Tendulkar is a great player, the finest batsman I have seen. But it was sad to see him try to change his game to suit the needs of Twenty20 cricket (during his stint as captain of Mumbai Indians in IPL). So was the case with Rahul Dravid, another great player," said the scorer of over 12,500 run in international cricket.
Ranatunga also expressed concerns that Twenty20 cricket would affect the longevity of players in the international game.
"I played for 20 years. But I am concerned for someone like Mahela (Jayawardene, the Lanka captain) who may not be able to last even 15 years (after the advent of T20)," he said.
Ranatunga rued being an administrator at a time when the game's custodians have to tread wearily to strike a balance between the three forms of the game.
"I'm happy I played cricket at the right time, but unhappy I have become an administrator at the wrong time," he said.
The former lankan captain, however, was happy to see the embattled West Indies benefit from the twenty20 cash bonanza that is on offer in the much-anticipated series between England and a combined West Indies XI.
"I am, however, happy that the West Indies (cricket board) are to benefit from these matches. West Indies have suffered the most (monetarily)," he said.
He was also concerned about demands from some players that a window be carved out in the ICC's Future Tours Programme for events like the IPL (which lasted for 44 days) as he felt there would be very little time left in the calendar year for holding Tests and ODIs with more and more countries unfolding T20 league.
"England will want it, Pakistan have demanded it and others might also follow," he pointed out.
On the upcoming India-Sri Lanka series featuring three Tests and five ODIs in July-August, Ranatunga, in Mumbai on a promotional tour for his country's tourism board and airlines centred in and around the tour, hoped rains would stay away.
"I hope it doesn't rain during the series because the weather patterns have changed all over the world," he said.
Ranatunga also advocated an inter-schools contest between the two countries for development of junior level cricket.
"Both India and Sri Lanka have strong junior cricket set-ups. I would like a contest between the schools of the two countries which would be beneficial for development of junior l evel cricket in both the countries," he said.
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