Colombo: Arjuna Ranatunga's aversion to Twenty20 cricket is not new. It's only grown this season. If earlier he had cringed watching the game take roots in other parts of the cricketing world, this season he's seeing the wave of T20 sweep across his own country.
In the last couple of months, Sri Lanka has been flooded with the slam-bang variety of the game. First, they had the inaugural Sri Lanka Premier League and for the last fortnight it has been the ICC World T20 Cup action.
"T20 is only about entertainment, there's no cricket education in it. It's your choice. My message to parents is simple: 'What do you want for your kids, entertainment or education?'" the 1996 World Cup winning captain told HT.
The most successful Sri Lanka captain is not impressed with the attitude of the current players. "Now, the priority of most of the players is to play the shorter format of the game because of the money factor. Their focus is not on quality cricket. The authorities need to maintain a balance."
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He cited the example of the adjustments made to Sri Lanka's tour of the West Indies next year, where the formats have been switched. "Both the boards have agreed to cancel the Test matches and instead have a limited overs series so that the players can play the Indian Premier League. It's an unfortunate development," he said.
"I feel bad for the youngsters who aim to play Test cricket. They have no role models. The values of the game are gone."
The success of the IPL has given rise to T20 leagues in Australia, Bangladesh, and now Sri Lanka. The Pakistan board is also looking at starting a similar league. The cricketer-turned-politician sees the football trend coming in where the clubs will control the game.
He believes this will lead to death of the most skilful brand of cricket — Tests.
"The worst part is the Premier Leagues which are mushrooming all around. Cricket is going the football way where the Premier League is the main event. The authorities need to understand that," he said.