Mumbai: Former Sri Lanka cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga is apprehensive that the repeated changes in the rules of One-Day Internationals have shifted the advantage so overwhelmingly in favour of the batsmen that very few youngsters in future would opt to be bowlers.
"A lot of people say it (new rules) is good for the game, but as far as I am concerned, it is not. Young boys, when they are 8 or 10, will not pick up the ball, they will pick up the bat," said the 1996 World Cup winning captain on the side lines of a media conference here last night to announce the formation of "Wills Realtors" by 14 of that victorious squad's members.
"Lots of people think cricket is a batsman's game, but I feel it should be 60:40 if not 50:50 (in favour of batsmen) because otherwise the bowlers would be getting killed. Some of the greats are getting thrashed in this T20 thing. I don't know whether they (youngsters) can look up to people. Now it looks like 90:10 and sometimes it looks like 95:5 (in favour of batsmen)," said Ranatunga.
The former cricketer was of the view that the general bowling standards around the world have declined steeply.
"Apart from Pakistan and South Africa, general bowling standards have gone down very badly. If you take South Africa, in our days their bowling was much better than the present bowling. Generally I feel the bowling apart from one or two countries has gone down very badly. Even the wickets have been flat in most of the places. They cater for batsmen," he said.
He was of the view that there should be a contest between the bat and ball.
"The bowlers will not survive. The way they play, the junior cricketers will stop bowling and they will try to bat. Asia will face a huge problem in the future," he said.
On the two new-ball rule (one from either end in ODIs) he said, "When we started, we played with two balls but ultimately we as captains in a captains meeting could convince the ICC that two balls is not good for one-day cricket. And they changed.
"I feel depending on the places, sometimes when you play in sub-continent, the ball can be damaged within no time. It is the other way round when you go to Australia and South Africa and play on seaming tracks, the benefit will be for the fast bowlers."Another former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya said he still prefers the old rule of using a single ball.
"The two new balls, I am not very happy. I think that is a big question mark for me. As personal opinion, I always think I would love to go with one ball," he said.
He felt with the new ODI rules, batsmen can score 200 runs with ease in the fifty over game.
"With the change of rules and also the (field) restrictions have been changed. Quite a few different rules have come into ODI. It is sometimes more in batsmen's favour. Most of the times now I think the batsmen can get 200," he said.
However, former Sri Lanka pacer Chaminda Vaas was of the opinion that bowlers would adjust to the new rules.
"It is good for the fast bowlers that you have two new balls and can use it and pick wickets as well. But one-day is a different ball game now with the advent of T20. Most of the bowlers have learnt so many variations and they have learnt a lot of things and are doing really well," he said.
"The way they bowl in power plays is unbelievable. I have seen some of the bowlers have given 20-25 runs but they have learnt and come up with ideas," the former left-arm pace bowler added.
The 39-year old bowler admitted that the ball wouldn't reverse swing in the later stage of the game and said, "it won't reverse at the last 6-7 overs but still bowlers have a chance."
Asked if the game is increasingly becoming more in the favour of the batsmen, he said, "The wickets are suited for the batsmen. Most of the people come to see the game not for the person taking five wickets but the batsmen scoring runs. The bowlers will come up with a plan."
Ranatunga backed the controversial Decision Review System and said it is the best thing that has happened to cricket in the last 20-30 years.
"I am a great believer that DRS should stay. It should be more advanced than trying to get rid of it. Sometimes people will say it is not 100 per cent accurate, but at least it is some percentage accurate. If I get a bad decision, at least I have a chance to correct it. That is the best thing that happened to cricket in last 20-30 years," he said.Taking pot shots at some powerful cricket boards like BCCI without naming them, the former batsman said that the ICC should try to protect the game instead of being get bullied.
"ICC should control the entire cricket in the world and they should not allow some of the countries to control. It has been happening for the last so many years. ICC, I always say, are the toothless tigers. They will get onto one small guy and they will punish him but when it comes to the big boys, they tend to take two steps back. It has been the normal case.
"Sometimes I feel whether ICC is there to protect cricket or ICC is there to support some countries. It is beyond control," he said.
On the recent Ashes incident where Australian skipper Michael Clarke was fined 20 per cent of his match fee trying to protect George Bailey from England bowler James Anderson's sledging, Ranatunga said he used to protect his own players as well.
"I always tend to protect my players. I didn't see the incident. It's about how you handle things, what the issue is. I don't know about this incident but I have seen in my own personal experience, some of the match referees have taken some awful decisions on players. I can't comment on this particular (incident). Whether it is a first Test or 100th Test, when you are a leader you should know how to control a player.
"As a leader your job is to protect. Sometimes when you go beyond control, you need to understand and know how to control that person. But if something goes on like (Cup-winning teammate) Muthiah Muralitharan, even a lot of people asked me if I did the right thing. I always say that my theory was to protect one of the greatest cricketers, which I did. It may not be the best thing for the game, overall you need to take some actions. You all know what happens in Australia, England and South Africa," he said.
Ranatunga had walked off with his team against England in 1999 in Australia, after Muralitharan was repeatedly no-balled by umpire Ross Emerson for his 'suspect' bowling delivery action.