Mahanama blasts the Aussie media at book launch

Rex Clementine

August 1, 2001

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Former Sri Lankan Test cricketer, Roshan Mahanama, blasted the Australian media for blowing the "Glen McGrath incident" out of proportion at the launch of his autobiography "Retired Hurt" yesterday at the Bandaranaiake Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo.

In his autobiography "Retired Hurt", Mahanama criticizes the Australian cricketers for the amount of sledging they do during play and refers to a particular incident where Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath calls Sanath Jayasuriya a "Black Monkey".

However, Mahanama feels this was yet another incident of that tour and he feels that the Aussie media blew the incident out of proportion after he mentioned it on his autobiography.

"I went to Melbourne to launch the book peacefully. But the Australian media were there with lot of cameras and focused on the Glenn McGrath incident. It 's sad. This is just one line in the book, which has 235 pages. They have taken this out of proportion and there were threats by McGrath to take legal action," said a disappointed Mahanama.

McGrath denies calling Jayasuriya a "black monkey" while Mahanama sticks to his allegation. On the person of Glenn McGrath he further says, "Glenn is a great bowler. But that doesn't allow him to say whatever he wants to the other players"

He's also critical of the then Australian skipper Mark Taylor and the present captain Steve Waugh, who suggested that Mahanama's comments were a publicity stunt.

"If I wanted publicity I would have gone with the story to a publisher much earlier. This is just a remark in the book," he said.

On this particular incident, the former CEO of the Australian Cricket Board, Malcolm Speed had questioned Mahanama as to how he knew about the incident since he didn't play in that particular game,

"Even if I had played the match, I wouldn't have been in the middle when the incident occurred," points out Mahanama. " After getting out Sanath came to the dressing room and told us on Glenn's remark. That's how I came to know about it"

To prove his point, at the book launch Mahanama played some video clips of the 1996 World Series where it's seen McGrath standing in Jayasuriya's way while the batsman was looking for a run. The video footage also shows McGrath using foul language at the Sri Lankan opener. It also goes onto show the umpire, Steve Randol pointing the incident to the Aussie captain Mark Taylor.

The book, which was initially launched at Melbourne, Australia, was launched in Sri Lanka yesterday with the Sinhalese and the English versions. The minister of sports Lakshman Kiriella was the chief Guest at the occasion. Cricketers of Sri Lankan, Indian and New Zealand teams, International cricket commentators, members of parliament, cricket administrators, past cricketers, foreign ambassadors and lots of Mahanama's fans and family members participated.

The book starts from Sri Lanka's World Cup victory and goes onto speaks of his reasons to quit the game. He also deals at length on Australian tour of 1995-1996, calling it the "the most controversial tour in my career."

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