Sri Lanka news February 7, 2009

Ranatunga blames poor administration for defeat

Arjuna Ranatunga feels the pitches for the ongoing ODI series were not prepared to suit the home spinners © Cricinfo Ltd

Former captain Arjuna Ranatunga has ruled out Sri Lanka's chances of another World Cup win if "unprofessional" officials continued to run the game in the country. Ranatunga, who led Sri Lanka to their only World Cup triumph in 1996, blamed Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) administrators for the team's series defeat to India and cited unsporting pitches as the reason for the ineffectiveness of the home spinners.

"People who run cricket here don't know anything about cricket. Do you think they love the game? No," Ranatunga said in Colombo. "I think we will never be able to win the World Cup if things do not change. Winning it will remain a dream. I don't know who runs cricket today. We should not panic, but have to act swiftly."

Ranatunga said matters needed to change immediately. "Winning it [a World Cup] will remain a dream. I don't know who runs cricket today. We should not panic, but have to act swiftly."

In December Ranatunga, 45, was sacked as chairman of SLC's interim committee after 11 months in the office, with sports minister Gamini Lokuge saying a change was necessary. The immediate issue was the sacking of 16 SLC employees by Ranatunga the week before.

Ranatunga felt Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis were not given helpful conditions for the ongoing five-match series. "We have two very good spinners but the wickets suited the opposition more. Unfortunately, there were no turning tracks," he said. "We are one of the most talented cricketing nations in the world. I blame some of those unprofessional people who have been running the game."

Ranatunga has been a vocal critic of the IPL, once comparing Twenty20 once to instant noodles, and antagonised the Indian board by stating that India lost the first Test to Sri Lanka in July 2008 because they played too much Twenty20 cricket. Ties between the Sri Lankan and Indian cricket boards became strained following Ranatunga's aggressive stance against the IPL. Senior BCCI officials subsequently made it known to their Sri Lankan counterparts that bilateral ties would improve only if Ranatunga was removed.

Ranatunga has now said it was a matter of prioritising for the Sri Lankan players and that he had no problems with the BCCI or with players choosing to participate in the IPL. "We want players to earn more money, but they should know how to make money," he said. "Players should realise what their priority is. I always said 'Country before yourself. Country before money'.

"My aim was to protect Sri Lankan cricket and put it on the right track. Yes, I am not a great believer of Twenty20 game. I am a traditional guy and prefer Test and one-dayers."