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Wednesday 19, February

Sports News

Arjuna Ranatunga, the Sri Lankan captain writes:

My attention has been drawn to certain remarks made by the Australian captain Mark Taylor, referring to me which were given wide publicity. My immediate reaction was to ignore them, but, as they were from the Australian cricket captain, I believe, that some sort of response is necessary.

From his remarks it would appear tht we resort to things outside the game of cricket in order to obtain undue advantage. The actual picture is just the converse, as Clive Lloyd and many others have commented. Invariably the blame is put on the opposing cricketers.

Perhaps Mark Taylor wants to take cover for the behaviour of some of his team mates by such insinuations. Even the best of cricketers are entitled to loss of form, but, not lapses of memory of this sort and within such a short period of time.

On our last tour of Australia we were subject to, not only to racial abuse, but even deliberate physical contact, despite which we managed to keep our cool. We believe that `Cricket' is a `Gentlemen's Game' which is intended amongst other objects to foster International friendship. From the behaviour of some of the Australian cricketers in the field, one could hardly believe that they were conscious of such perceptions.

Apart from other reasons Mark Taylor should do well to consider why all these problems arise, only when teams visit Australia and then invariably when the Australians are fielding. May be it is the ``herd'' instinct within the safety of the domestic conclave.

Mark Taylor is the successor to a proud tradition of great Australian captains and cricketers like great Sir Donald Bradman and others who have brought fame not only to Australia, but to the great game of cricket. They have unreservedly condemned sledging. Mark Taylor by condoning such methods is doing a great disservice not only to himself but to his predecessors as well. He himself confessed that at the end of our tour of Australia last year, that perhaps he had not taken control of the situation early enough.

I would be failing in my duty, if I do not pay a great tribute to the vast Australian cricketing public, as well as to the past great cricketers, some of whom have given me the privilege of their great friendship which I shall always cherish.

Unfortunately, in the present context of things I wonder whether such healthy relationships could arise.

During the infamous ``Bodyline'' series, the then Australian cricket captain is said to have remarked that though there were two sides out on the field, only one side was playing the game. Mark Taylor would do well to ponder over those remarks in relation to his own attitude and that of some of his own team mates.

Finally, my earnest request to Mark Taylor is that he should captain the team as a leader should. We can play hard with the bat and ball with no quarter requested or given, in the interest of this game, and of the public. Leave those disgusting methods in the gutter whence only there they can emanate.

Let us remind ourselves that this is a gentlemen's game and play it as gentlemen, irrespective of the outcome.