I remember it vividly like it was just a second a go… The Sri Lanka versus Australia Test in Hobart in 89/90 and David Boon was the batsman and Rumesh Ratnayake the bowler… The ball is short and quick and hits boon on the head…
I stood up and cheered loved seeing blood spilt on the pitch and a bowler intimidating a batsman having been a fan of such sadistic bowlers as Wes Hall,John Snow and Colin Croft who was that aggressive when he bowled in New Zealand one series he ran in and even deliberately bumped an umpire.
So thought this was brilliant by the Sri Lankan quick but then to my horror and utter disbelief I see the Sri Lankan team mates comforting a distraught Rumesh whose in tears for he hurt another human…
To me it just wasn’t cricket but it was so very Sri Lankan!
I say that as a point of compliment in life for having visited your paradise island in the 1960’s the people are just so beautiful, always smiling, so full of life and so very very nice…
But in cricket nice guys come last and kindness is seen as a weakness as many will point to the image of the ugly Aussies as being wrong but few would discount the fact that that image of course coupled with there exceptional play lead to Australia’s era of dominance….
At the time Sri Lankan was loved by all but feared by few so they needed a person to come in and basically teach them to add aggression to there exceptional natural talents and aptitude for the game so they had this man in their midst already having been an 18 year old boy in the inaugural test by Sri Lanka in England in 1982 that of the very astute and tough as teak Arjuna Ranatunga who when confronted would never take a step back he would look a person straight dead in the eye and take a step forward.
He had such a fire in his stare that I’m sure he could turn sand into glass such was its heat…
Lets go for a walk down memory lane in regards to this great man and how he brought ultimate glory and respect to SL cricket.
To be honest he was like a Sri Lankan version of the great West Indian Sir Frank Worrell who created the unity needed and belief of the great Windies dynasty between the mid 1970’s to 90’s.he made the team like his family,like a true band of brothers he was viewed by his teammates as the big brother and he referred to them as the little brothers and my word did he look after them and they look up to him and follow him with such reverence.
This unity and faith in each other culminated in Sri Lanka’s finest hour in the 1996 World Cup victory and through the tournament one could feel they were a team of destiny and the final was conspired to by fates fickle hand a confrontation against the Aussies who had brought such pain to one of Arjunas ‘malli’ Murali who was so victimised in Australia.
Even through the whole match when confronted by hardship they rose two cheap wickets down in the chase and Aravinda de Silva and Asanka Gurisinghe steady the ship-then the exclamation mark…..
Ranatunga facing Warne and Australia nearly dead to rights.Arjuna flicks a cheeky four and Warne retaliates in an insulting foul manner very befitting of the ‘ugly Aussies’ and Arjuna just smile at him and Warne like a yappy dog knows his master and just quietens down.the next ball Warne immaturely bowls a bouncer and Arjuna you could see he knew he had Warne mentally ruled..
The game was won by Sri Lanka and they ruled the world but Ranatungas legacy didn’t end with this glorious moment
there was unfinished business in Australia one knew this was Arjunas thinking for they had previously targeted one of his ‘family’ in Murali so they needed to be shown up for this obvious victimisation instigated by the dubious umpire Darrel Hair.
So the tour to Australia in 99 and an ODI game against England in Adelaide – city of churches – should be a nice place you think….
Though there was a devil dressed as an umpire in Emerson and as Murali bowls…… the arm comes out for action….. so rather than taking this any more Ranatunga makes a stand and in the process thinks "enough of this tripe I’m leading my team off in protest". Point made loud and clear with it ringing bells in the big wigs in the ICC and instigating the powers that be to declare Muralis action legal once and for all…
Just a post note to this. Emerson, later had a mental break down. Was it out of guilt? Only he and the good Lord would know?
So Arjuna the ‘aiya’ was who made people respect and fear Sri Lanka as a cricketing force.
Peace to you all and may god bless your great nation,