How are ex-prime ministers and the
ex-captains of international sporting teams alike? When they retire, they don’t
go away. They just get louder.

Perhaps the best current example is Arjuna
Ranatunga, the feisty Sri Lankan who barely goes a day without exclaiming
something about his beloved cricket team or their dastardly opponents,
especially when those opponents are Australian.

That’s no surprise to anyone who saw
Ranatunga play. As Cricinfo.com wrote earlier this month: “ … for Arjuna Ranatunga, competitiveness involved
brinksmanship rather than training.” Clearly, his post cricket-life adheres to
that maxim.

Two days ago, Ranatunga was telling Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan that he should never play in Australia
again
because of crowd taunts over his action. “If I had been
the captain or manager I would have asked Murali to pack his bags and go home
and take some rest as there is a limit to everything,” he said.

Given the rare
blessing of a player like Murali, it’s fair to say no captain would ever send
him home.

(On a side note, it
wouldn’t have hurt the Australians to have acknowledged Murali’s greatness
during last night’s presentations, indirectly telling those crowd members
guilty of sledging him to pull their heads in.)

When Ricky Ponting was
rested around Australia Day, Ranatunga called the Australians “arrogant”.
And it’s
not only Australian selectors and players who have upset him: the Australian
media

is a hive of iniquity too.

Finally, it appears
some people might have had enough. “When he speaks, people
listen,” wrote the Mail & Guardian.
“Of course, they only listen because they’re trapped next to him on the bus,
pinned into their seats by his girth and missionary zeal.”

As a retired cricketer,
the only response he’s likely to listen to came from the Australians in the
final two games of the VB Series – a good old fashion dose of “scoreboard,
mate”.

Peter Fray

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