Ranatunga returns to Sri Lanka cricket

Published: Friday, May 13, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Colombo:Former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga agreed to represent his country on a key International Cricket Council (ICC) committee, ending a self-imposed five-year exile from the game.

Ranatunga, who quit international cricket in 2000, replaced former team-mate and deputy Aravinda de Silva as Sri Lanka's representative on the ICC Cricket Committee.

"It's been a while since I visited this place," Ranatunga told AFP on Friday after arriving at Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) headquarters in downtown Colombo.

"I have tried to distance myself with the board politics because I was disgusted with what was going on and did not want to tarnish my image. So much has changed in the board offices over the years, its like a five-star hotel now."

Ranatunga, captain of the 1996 World Cup-winning squad, will attend the ICC Cricket Committee meeting chaired by former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, on Monday and Tuesday.

He is also tipped to take over as chairman of the Sri Lanka's cricket committee and expected to play a significant role in picking the next coach of the national team.

"I am looking forward to give something back," said the 41-year-old, who is also Sri Lanka's Deputy Minister of Tourism.

"This Sri Lankan team has enormous talent and I was very keen when (interim committee chairman) Jayantha Dharmadasa approached me and asked for my services."

Ranatunga's appointment is likely to evoke mixed response in the ICC. He has a good knowledge of the game, but is also a critic of the sport's world governing body.

Recently, when team-mate Muttiah Muralitharan was ignored for the inaugural ICC awards in London, he called the event a "farce" and a "joke".

Sri Lankas cricket administration was in turmoil last month when the government sacked the elected members of SLC, headed by Thilanga Sumathipala, and appointed an interim committee to run the sport.

Ranatunga's appointment to the ICC body is seen as a political move since he is part of the government and De Silva was vice-president of the erstwhile elected SLC.

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