Warne~~s slur against Murali annoys Ranatunga

Published: Thursday, December 22, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Colombo:Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga has slammed record-breaking spinner Shane Warne for suggesting that rivals like Muttiah Muralitharan benefited by taking "cheap" wickets.

"Shane tries to be larger than the game and life and expects a lot of credit for his performances. He thinks there's no better bowler than him," Ranatunga told AFP on Thursday.

The Australian leg-spinner said earlier this week that his world record tallies of 651 career wickets and 87 in a calendar year will not last long because other bowlers got a lot of wickets against weaker opponents.

Without naming Sri Lankan Muralitharan, his nearest rival with 584 wickets, Warne said: "There's a lot more cricket being played these days and you have teams like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in there, with some teams playing them a lot more (than others).

"I've never played a Test against Bangladesh and only one against Zimbabwe, but there are some teams out there that play them a lot.

"Some blokes bowl at one end all day against those sort of countries and take lots of wickets. I'm sure that whoever those people are, they might get the record."

The Australian newspaper, which quoted Warne, said: "It doesn't take a sudoku expert or a Da Vinci Code sleuth to work out who 'those people' are."

Muralitharan has taken more wickets (89) against Test minnows Zimbabwe than any other nation. The off-spinner also has 34 wickets in four Tests against Bangladesh, an average of more than eight wickets a match.

Warne will play his first two Tests against Bangladesh when Australia visit the South Asian nation in April. Sri Lanka will also tour Bangladesh in February-March.

Ranatunga, who led Sri Lanka to World Cup glory in 1996, said Warne's argument against his rivals did not stand up.

"Warne takes a lot of wickets against England, South Africa and New Zealand who generally don't play spin all that well," said Ranatunga.

"But take a look at his record against the Indians who play spin best. I am not lying, check the statistics and judge for yourself and you would know who the better spinner is."

Warne has taken 172 wickets against England, 107 wickets against South Africa and 103 against New Zealand.

But the leg-spinner has managed only 43 wickets against the Indians at an embarrassing average of 47.19, compared to Muralitharan's 73 wickets against them.

"Warne also gets a lot of tail-end wickets and I have always said that he's an overrated bowler," Ranatunga said.

"Question marks will always hover around Warne's performances. After all, he is the one and only Test cricketer banned from the game for taking drugs."

Warne served a 12-month suspension from the game after being found guilty of taking a banned diuretic ahead of the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

"Can Warne be a role model for any youngster?" asked Ranatunga. "How many controversies he's been part of.

"Warne can never be a role model and I don't want any Sri Lankan youngsters to follow him as a role model."

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