Ranatunga advises Murali not to tour Australia


Sydney : Former Sri Lanka cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga has revealed he has advised champion spinner Muttiah Muralidharan not to tour Australia, media reports said Tuesday.

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“I told him (Muralidharan) I wish he wasn’t touring Australia because of the amount of trouble he has had,” Ranatunga told The Australian daily.

“But he wants to go. It was up to him to decide. My personal opinion was that he shouldn’t go,” he added.

“I think Murali is tough enough to go through that and take whatever he gets.”

Ranatunga, who led Sri Lanka to its only World Cup title in 1996, made the comment in the aftermath of a bitterly contested one-day international series between Australia and India, marked by racist taunts from the crowd.

And the former Sri Lanka captain fears that aggressive Australian crowds will now target Muralidharan during Sri Lanka’s two Tests in Brisbane and Hobart.

Murali, who has a controversial bowling action, had bananas thrown at him at the Gabba on a previous tour and boycotted the 2004 tour because of potential trouble.

Ranatunga was the captain when Muralidharan was infamously no-balled several times for chucking by controversial Australian umpire Darrell Hair at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1995-96 series.

The spinner has since endured repeated chants of “no-ball” by Australian crowds and was incensed three years ago by Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who publicly declared that the Sri Lankan was a chucker.

“It’s not the entire crowd that behaved like that. It’s very limited people. Most of the people know the game pretty well and understand it very well,” Ranatunga said.

“He is a tough little fella. It will give him more motivation to break the record in front of them.”

The spinner now needs only nine scalps to break Shane Warne’s world record of 708 Test wickets, with the series opener beginning at the Gabba, Nov 8.

The Sri Lankan team is scheduled to arrive in Adelaide Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia (CA) is working with its state associations on ways to improve crowd behaviour. CA anti-racism officer Peter Young had talks with security officer Sean Carroll.

“It’s not specific to a person or issue, just appropriate behaviour at cricket matches,” Young said.