Mumbai, Nov 29: Former Sri Lanka cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga is apprehensive that the repeated changes in the rules of One-Day Internationals have shifted the advantage so overwhelmingly in favour of the batsmen that very few youngsters in future would opt to be bowlers.
"A lot of people say it (new rules) is good for the game, but as far as I am concerned, it is not. Young boys, when they are 8 or 10, will not pick up the ball, they will pick up the bat," said the 1996 World Cup winning captain on the sidelines of a media conference here last night to announce the formation of "Wills Realtors" by 14 of that victorious squad's members.
"Lots of people think cricket is a batsman's game, but I feel it should be 60:40 if not 50:50 (in favour of batsmen) because otherwise the bowlers would be getting killed. Some of the greats are getting thrashed in this T20 thing. I don't know whether they (youngsters) can look up to people. Now it looks like 90:10 and sometimes it looks like 95:5 (in favour of batsmen)," said Ranatunga.
The former cricketer was of the view that the general bowling standards around the world have declined steeply.
"Apart from Pakistan and South Africa, general bowling standards have gone down very badly. If you take South Africa, in our days their bowling was much better than the present bowling. Generally I feel the bowling apart from one or two countries has gone down very badly. Even the wickets have been flat in most of the places. They cater for batsmen," he said.
He was of the view that there should be a contest between the bat and ball. "The bowlers will not survive. The way they play, the junior cricketers will stop bowling and they will try to bat. Asia will face a huge problem in the future," he said.
On the two new-ball rule (one from either end in ODIs) he said, "When we started, we played with two balls but ultimately we as captains in a captains meeting could convince the ICC that two balls is not good for one-day cricket. And they changed. "I feel depending on the places, sometimes when you play in sub-continent, the ball can be damaged within no time. It is the other way round when you go to Australia and South Africa and play on seaming tracks, the benefit will be for the fast bowlers."
Taking pot shots at some powerful cricket boards like BCCI without naming them, the former batsman said that the ICC should try to protect the game instead of being get bullied.
"ICC should control the entire cricket in the world and they should not allow some of the countries to control. It has been happening for the last so many years. ICC, I always say, are the toothless tigers. They will get onto one small guy and they will punish him but when it comes to the big boys, they tend to take two steps back. It has been the normal case.
"Sometimes I feel whether ICC is there to protect cricket or ICC is there to support some countries. It is beyond control," he said.
On the recent Ashes incident where Australian skipper Michael Clarke was fined 20 per cent of his match fee trying to protect George Bailey from England bowler James Anderson's sledging, Ranatunga said he used to protect his own players as well.
"I always tend to protect my players. I didn't see the incident. It's about how you handle things, what the issue is. I don't know about this incident but I have seen in my own personal experience, some of the match referees have taken some awful decisions on players. I can't comment on this particular (incident). Whether it is a first Test or 100th Test, when you are a leader you should know how to control a player.
"As a leader your job is to protect. Sometimes when you go beyond control, you need to understand and know how to control that person. But if something goes on like (Cup-winning teammate) Muthiah Muralitharan, even a lot of people asked me if I did the right thing. I always say that my theory was to protect one of the greatest cricketers, which I did. It may not be the best thing for the game, overall you need to take some actions. You all know what happens in Australia, England and South Africa," he said.
Ranatunga had walked off with his team against England in 1999 in Australia, after Muralitharan was repeatedly no-balled by umpire Ross Emerson for his 'suspect' bowling delivery action.