Ranatunga lashes back at 'selfish' Hayden

Published: Sunday, August 29, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:On the cricket field, he always gave it back and four years after he has retired from the game, Arjuna Ranatunga still does not mince words -- be it on Matthew Hayden's noises about sub-continental cricketers being selfish or the controversies surrounding Muttiah Muralitharan.

They cannot "absorb" the success of sub-continental cricketers, says Ranatunga in reference to the recent remarks by Australian opening batsman Matthew Hayden, who wrote that sub-continental cricketers play for personal records and bat selfishly.

Sri Lanka's most successful captain has lost none of his forthrightness although he is now a Parliamentarian and Deputy Minister for Tourism and Industry. He spoke candidly about Australians, Indian cricketers and, most critically, about his country's cricket establishment during an interview to PTI in New Delhi.

Citing an innings by Hayden in October last in Australia against Zimbabwe where the side did not declare till the opener was on the crease and made 380 runs to break West Indies legend Brian Lara's then record of 375 runs, Ranatunga said, "The best question you can refer back to him is why did he bat till he got past the world record. They should have declared much before that".

Asserting that "they", referring to Australians without directly naming them, all go for personal records and ultimately point a finger at the Asians, the no-nonsense 40-year old who led his team to victory in the 1996 World Cup, said "I feel when sub-continent cricketers are doing well, they cannot absorb it. And it has been the pattern for last so many years.

"The bottom-line is that the sub-continental cricketers are so gifted and talented, it is the way they use their wrists, I think they are more natural sports people."

Stating that he was not surprised by Hayden's remarks, he said, "I am quite used to it. The best thing is to show with the bat and the ball", Ranatunga said the Australians were also good at playing "mind-games" and if one analysed the tours made by them to his country and to India, one would observe that they start these ploys before the start of every visit.

"Normally they start with the top players you have in the country and they will try to put the mind into different line," he said.

On the controversy surrounding the bowling of Muralitharan, Ranatunga made the surprise charge that "some of our own people do not want to see the ace off-spinner play. I may be completely wrong but I think someone is targeting Murali".

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