Sri Lankan cricket July 21, 2006

Ranatunga resigns as minister for tourism


Ranatunga: 'Our cricket is deteriorating and something needs to be done quickly to sort out this mess' © AFP

Arjuna Ranatunga, the former Sri Lankan captain, has resigned as junior minister for tourism to devote time to Sri Lanka's cricket administration. He handed in his resignation to President Mahinda Rajapakse after Jeevan Kumaratunga, the sports minister, delayed naming a fresh interim committee to run the game in the country.

Last week, Rajapakse had acceded to the request of 11 former cricketers to call off elections to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and asked the sports ministry to appoint an interim committee that would include Ranatunga. Kumaratunga, however, has yet to name the panel amid speculation that he did not want Ranatunga to enter cricket administration.

"I love cricket above everything else and I am what I am today because of the game," said Ranatunga. "If my holding a deputy minister's role is a stumbling block in getting into the SLC, I thought I should step down." Kumaratunga had earlier prevented one of his ministerial colleagues from contesting elections, saying politicians should not get involved in sports administration . "I am sad that my name has created such a stir. I ask whether I am unsuitable to come into cricket administration simply because I am a deputy minister," said Ranatunga. "I am not just a politician. I have played the game for 20 years and I have been involved in various cricket activities. I entered politics four years ago on the request of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga. But I was never given the opportunity to do anything and am now stepping down to help the sport."

Ranatunga slammed Kumaratunga for delaying the appointment of a new SLC panel and blamed him for favouring Jayantha Dharmadasa, the current interim head. "Our cricket is deteriorating and something needs to be done quickly to sort out this mess. I spoke to Aravinda de Silva a couple of days back and he was willing to join the new committee. We also have Sidat Wettimuny, another respected cricketer, and so many others who want to work for the good of the game."

Last year, Ranatunga headed the SLC's high-profile cricket committee but quit in disgust after the interim committee failed to implement his proposals.