For how long can a man who led his country to World Cup bliss from a teenage idol be kept in limbo in a nation of talkers only?
Many a player, follower and politician have gone knocking on the door of the now silver-haired and retired World Cup Champion Arjuna Ranatunga who for the past 23 years has been only talking about the sport that has made him the country’s foremost sought after voice in cricket
This week was no different for the former south paw batsman as he heard the knock from no less a person than Sports Minister Harin Fernando who was back in the saddle replacing Ranatunga’s trusted ally and the ousted crusader Roshan Ranasinghe.
In a bail-out voice Minister Fernando admitted he could be sailing rough seas without a rower like Ranatunga and pleaded with the one-time left-hander to be his undeclared right hand man.
Fernando’s invitation was not extend without a plea. “I like to see Arjuna Ranatunga join us and we need his help. This is not a crown bestowed on me. It’s a burden”, said Fernando.
Barely a month has gone by since Ranatunga thought he had the administration of cricket in the bag which would have made him one of the most deserving custodians of cricket in the country.
But instead a World Cup Champion for his country was reduced to a Nobody, an unofficial travelling ambassador who bears witness to the destruction around him and whose presence anywhere can turn the heads of media personnel.
If not for his political inclinations of the past since he hung up his bat, Ranatunga could have been one of the world’s most successful brains in retirement whose philosophy about the sport could have been grabbed by any country.
“I keep wondering why am I sticking around in a place that serves no purpose for me and where nothing goes right”, he ruefully told reporters.
To many the onetime teenager in love with cricket that caught the eye of one of the world’s greatest captains Gary Sobers, could be facing his last fling at calling the shots in taking care of the future of the Sri Lanka cricket team he captained with authority sticking his neck out many a time at the risk of his playing career.
None need to nudge the former rebel-minded captain of a now or never last ditch stand to salvage cricket or what is left of it and he knows too well.
“The set-up does not permit me to stand for election,” Ranatunga said. “I cannot buy the votes of clubs to get in”.
He could be one of the rarest retired World Cup champions in any sport anywhere in the world to be treated with disdain unable to make decisions as an administrator and guide of a team he once revolutionized to international glory.
How many times will Ranatunga hear the tap on his door to do what the whole country wants him to do?
How many more months and years will Ranatunga have to spend in limbo or talking into the cameras and recorders of reporters about his regrets and remorsefulness of been kept under lock and key.
The answers are blowing in the wind, and the times they’re a changing.