ICC is toothless and unprofessional: Arjuna Ranatunga
Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga criticised Sri Lanka and Bangladesh cricket boards for agreeing to a reserve day for the India versus Pakistan Super 4 fixture in the Asia Cup alone. Ranatunga, who is known to be outspoken, questioned the Asian Cricket Council’s decision to keep the tournament in Colombo amidst heavy rains and not allotting a reserve day for other group matches.
Last Friday, in an unprecedented move, the Pakistan Cricket Board, technically the hosts of the tournament, added a reserve day to the India-Pakistan match in Colombo as there was a heavy rain forecast. The decision at the eleventh hour raised eyebrows as it gave an advantage to India and Pakistan, thus depriving them of a level-playing field. Eventually, the game that started on Sunday went into the next day and India won.
Ranatunga, in a select media interaction, observed that both the ACC and the International Cricket Council have become toothless in front of powerful boards. “I don’t know whether the ICC is acting today or whether we have ICC. They always say ICC is the toothless tiger. They act in a very unprofessional way. I think they are the ones who should look at cricket and protect cricket. Ultimately, cricket should be controlled by the ICC, not by a country or an individual,” he said.
“Now, you take the Asia Cup. You have rules before the tournament, but before that one game (India v Pakistan), they changed the rules. So where is ACC? Where is ICC?” Ranatunga added.
While the decision received sharp criticism from Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha and Sri Lanka coach Chris Silverwoood, Sri Lanka Cricket and Bangladesh Cricket Board later put out statements on X (Twitter earlier) stating the decision to allot a reserve day was an unanimous one. “You have India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – four top teams — will keep Afghanistan out. So when they try to change the rules, if the SLC and BCB say: ‘ok, do whatever you want’, they should be thrown out. Who is suffering? It is the players,” he said.
“I am not very comfortable with some of the things, especially when you have a tournament where you change rules for one team. You’re looking at a disaster in the future. No one talks about it. Have you ever seen a single cricketer talk about this rule change? No. Why? They don’t want to miss the buck. Simple as that,” Ranatunga fumed.
From deciding the hosts to adopting a hybrid model and keeping the tournament in Colombo amidst heavy rains, this edition of the Asia Cup has been a bad advertisement for ACC. Even the ticket rates being sold at higher prices has seen the R Premadasa Stadium remaining largely empty even for the India vs Pakistan fixture.