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Soft-spoken disciplinarian Madugalle reaches 200 not out

CRICKET: Former Sri Lanka batsman Ranjan Madugalle reached a landmark here on Friday when he officiated in his 200th one-dayer as a match referee during the World Cup Super Eights game between England and Ireland.

Softly-spoken, but a strict disciplinarian, Madugalle is widely-respected and is excited to reach the landmark.

“It’s always good to reach a landmark,” said Madugalle, whose first outing as a match referee was between Pakistan and Zimbabwe in Karachi in 1993.

“I would still look at it as another one-day international but, yes, when I look back and reflect on the journey I feel that it’s something I enjoyed and will continue to enjoy.”

Madugalle, who will turn 48 six days before the World Cup final on April 28, needs another six matches to complete a century of Tests as match referee.

As a stylish batsman Madugalle played 21 Tests and 63 one-day internationals until 1988 and also led his country in two Tests.

He feels playing the game was an honour but acting as a referee is a great test.

“There’s no substitute for playing for your country, it is the single greatest honour. I’m also enjoying my current role and do it with a passion,” said Madugalle, who became chief referee in 2001.

Madugalle disagreed that the implementation of the code of conduct and the match referee’s role means that the International Cricket Council (ICC) is policing the game.

“I think that when the match referee was introduced it was for the role of disciplining the players, but that actually was just one aspect of the job,” said Madugalle.

“The role also deals with players’ safety, creates safety standards and, more importantly, deals with the umpires.

“We like to think that the referees have played a role in standardising certain aspects of the game. No role is constant so it is evolving and we will also start moving towards changes.”.

Without doubt, he rates The Oval controversy, when Pakistan forfeited the final Test against England in a row over alleged ball-tampering, as the single most difficult case he has handled.

“Before that incident the game had not seen a forfeiture. I was not the referee but I had to officiate at the hearing and it was the single most difficult case,” said Madugalle of the incident in August last year.

The then Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq refused to take the field after tea on fourth day against England after umpires Darrell Hair of Australia and West Indian Billy Doctrove charged Pakistan with ball tampering.

The Test ended in a forfeit - the first in Test cricket’s 129-year history.

The ICC conducted an inquiry through Madugalle who cleared Inzamam of all tampering charges but banned him for four one-day matches for bringing the game into disrepute.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday

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