Arjuna's words of wisdomApril 22, 2012, 7:52 pm
Former World Cup winning Sri Lankan cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga has stirred up a hornet's nest with his recent attack on the Indian cricket administrators and their IPL. Incumbent captain Mahela Jayawardene has come forward to defend the IPL by brushing aside Ranatunga's criticism. A beneficiary of IPL, he could not have done otherwise.
Arjuna is one of the few cricketers who could speak of the game with authority and his views on IPL and its adverse impact on cricket the world over are sure to have gained wide currency among cricket lovers. He minced no words when he said, in a media interview,
IPL would produce butchers instead of fine cricketers of the calibre of Gavaskars, Vengsarkars or Viswanaths, Tendulkars, Dravids and Laxmans. Mercenaries, we believe, would have been a better word than butchers. The IPL's debilitating impact on Indian Test cricket is already felt, he argues, citing as an example India’s Test debacles due to its preoccupation with T20 (butchers' cricket?).
The entire universe is in a state of flux and therefore cricket alone cannot defy change, one may argue. In the modern world where the pace of life has become incredibly faster than it used to be a few decades ago with people having very little time for recreation and entertainment, it is only natural that the need has been felt for a shorter version of the game. But, as Arjuna has rightly pointed out, those who understand cricket are not quite enamoured of it. One man's meat is another man's poison as they say and those who love Test cricket must be able to enjoy it. But, their worry is that T20 is throttling the original version of the game slowly but surely. Sri Lankans were deprived of an opportunity to watch more Test cricket besides one-dayers the other day because of the on-going IPL series.
As for the annual T20 carnival, India's right to do what it thinks is good for its cricket cannot be questioned. Similarly, Sri Lanka must do what is good for its cricket. In reality, Arjuna is right that the IPL has taken its toll on Sri Lankan cricket. Lasith Malinga, one of the finest bowlers this country has produced, retired from Test cricket, trotting out lame excuses, so that he could have Indian rupees jingling in his pocket. Mahela and others are playing less Test cricket to take part in IPL matches with the connivance of the Sri Lankan cricket board.
Arjuna says he likes the way the West Indies cricket board handles the IPL issue. "They allowed their players to go and play in the IPL and continued to stage their international matches against Australia." Why can't Sri Lanka do likewise? As the national players continue to shirk their duties and responsibilities, blinded by greed, it is high time we looked for alternatives.
Most cricket playing nations are being controlled by the Indian cricket board because they have all the money and at the International Cricket Council (ICC), when India says something, all others keep their mouths shut because they are dependent on Indian money, Arjuna argues. That Sri Lanka Cricket has been reduced to a pliable tool in the hands of Indians who call the shots is only too well known.
No sooner had the IPL come into being than a far-sighted Arjuna sounded a prescient warning that Sri Lanka's cricket would suffer a paralysing blow. His prediction has come true. At least now, the government and the cricket administrators must take his views on board and act accordingly if disaster is to be averted.
There is a striking difference between Arjuna and the present-day cricketers, some of whom have sold their souls to the IPL organisers. Arjuna played for the country and others are playing for money. The only way they could help save the lovely game is to emulate him.