Arjuna Ranatunga, the Sri Lankan skipper who led his team to their 1996 World Cup triumph, slammed the country’s sports leaders on Friday (July 2) for agreeing to a tour by a ‘second level’ India side. The 57-year-old former cricketer said the tour undermined the country’s ‘dignity’ as he attacked Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka Cricket.
The Indian team, led by Shikhar Dhawan, arrived in Sri Lanka on June 28 to prepare for the three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 games that start July 13. Some big names from the Indian team — Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant were absent from the line-up. They are currently preparing for a Test series in England.
“The Indian squad that came to Sri Lanka is not their best, it is a second-level team. Didn’t our sports minister or cricket administrators know this?” said Ranatunga.
“Sri Lanka may have gone down [in the rankings], but as a cricketing nation we have an identity, we have dignity, we should not be sending our best to play an Indian B team.”
Ranatunga said the game’s administration had deteriorated and called for a major clean-up to improve playing standards and skills.
He mentioned that the authorities failed to consider the humiliation Sri Lankan players would suffer. He believes that cricket leaders considered only the financial gains.
“The secret behind agreeing to an Indian B team is TV rights,” Ranatunga said. “The board wants to make money from this tournament even if it means pitching our players against a B team.”
According to Ranatunga, the lack of discipline showed by some Sri Lankan players is a result of poor management.
Vice-captain Kusal Mendis, opener Danushka Gunathilaka, and wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella were withdrawn from the current England tour after they violated the Covid-19 bio-secure bubble. The trio is expected to be dropped from the India series.