Cricket: Ranatunga turns his back on Australia

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The Independent Online
THE SRI LANKA captain, Arjuna Ranatunga, has said he is unlikely to play in Australia again following the controversial tour during which he received a six-match suspended ban after leading his team off the field.

"The 1995-96 [tour of Australia] and this tour are the most forgettable..." Ranatunga was quoted as saying by The Island newspaper yesterday after the team's return from Australia. "I don't think I will go back to Australia to play cricket. I don't want to lose a couple of years of my life."

During the tour the Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was controversially called by the Australian umpire Ross Emerson for throwing during a limited- overs match, against England in Adelaide, on 23 January. Ranatunga led his players off the field in protest at the decision, eventually earning himself a suspended six-game ban from the International Cricket Council.

The Island quoted Ranatunga as saying he had no regrets over the incident and denying he had lost his cool after Emerson, who had also called Muralitharan for throwing during Sri Lanka's 1995-96 tour to Australia, faulted him again. "Whether I like it or not, it's finished. I can't do anything about it," Ranatunga was quoted as saying. "I stood by one of my players. It's as simple as that."

Ranatunga lambasted the Australian crowds for their bad behaviour and constant jeering of Muralitharan, and said spectators around the Indian subcontinent were much better.

"Australia and England, whenever they tour the Indian subcontinent, complain about unruly crowd behaviour there. I must say the conduct of Indian and Pakistani crowds is a thousand times better than that of the Australian crowds," he said.

"The way they treated a bowler who has taken 200 Test wickets was disgusting and proves there are more civilised people in India and Pakistan."

When asked whether Sri Lankan crowds should behave similarly when Australia tour the Indian Ocean island later this year, Ranatunga said: "Just because a dog bites the man, the man should not bite the dog."

Sri Lanka had a disastrous tour of Australia, where they won only three of their 10 matches in the limited-overs tournament involving themselves, the hosts and England.

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