Ian Healy clears the air on ‘fat c***’ sledge from 1995-96
Former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy has revealed the infamous sledge levelled at former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga is “not true” now 25 years on from the controversy.
The Aussie legend, who preceded Adam Gilchrist, played in 119 Tests and 168 ODIs over his career but one night January 1996 has lived on thanks to one of the more savage sledges in cricket history.
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When Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga came to the crease, the famously rotund star called for a runner, sparking a confrontation with Healy.
The stump mic reportedly picked up Healy saying “You don’t get a runner for being an overweight, fat c***”.
It was the second final of the 1995/96 Benson & Hedges World Series match after Australia had taken the first match by 18 runs.
In a rain affected match, it went right down to the wire with Australia ultimately winning by just nine runs after Sri Lanka lost 25 overs due to rain.
And it was a heated time after Muttiah Muralidaran was famously called for throwing. A month later, Australia also forfeited their group match against Sri Lanka over safety concerns.
Ian Healy said he was merely questioning why Ranatunga called for a runner.Source:News Corp Australia
Ranatunga, who went on to score 41 in the game, needed then Australian captain Mark Taylor to intervene as Ranatunga erupted.
While tensions were heated, Healy denied the sledge but it has gone down in cricketing folklore regardless.
In previous interviews, Healy said “I’ve never called anyone ever in my career a c-word or a coloured word. That’s not right.”
But in an interview with the WWOS, Healy didn’t deny that he said something about Ranatunga’s weight.
“What I said was, ‘You can’t have a runner for being unfit’,” he said.
“His reply was that he had cramp. And I said ‘You’ve got cramp because you’re fat. Have a look at yourself.’
“And that was it.”
Ranatunga then ran back at Healy and he said “Well, your leg’s OK now champ”.
“Then I called out to the umpire, Peter Parker, and said, ‘This is going to be fair, Porky, you’ve got the world’s quickest man, (Sanath) Jayasuriya, running for the world’s slowest man, Arjuna’,” he said.
“That’s how it all transpired. It wasn’t nasty or anything. I don’t like seeing the fat c*** line being written in books, it’s horrible, and it’s not true.”
Healy’s story has remained consistent throughout the years and the pair have even caught up for dinner since the encounter.
It could have been that Sri Lanka got some revenge in March of the same year when they defeated Australia to win the 1996 World Cup and time — and victory — heal all wounds.
Ian Healy is one of Australian cricket’s greats.Source:News Corp Australia
In an interview with The Age in 2011, Healy admitted he was furious over Jayasuriya coming to the crease.
“I saw what the physio was doing on his leg – nothing. Then Sanath Jayasuriya was padded up, the fastest man in world cricket, to replace the slowest man. So I blew up,” he said. “There was no way he was as injured as he was making out. He was nine not out or something, and he said it was cramp.’’
It was 15 years later in 2011 that the ICC banned runners in International cricket with the then ICC boss Haroon Lorgat admitting they were “used not in the right spirit”.
Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar told Indian media at the time that if runners were banned, the ICC should also ban drinks on the boundary for bowlers and substitute fielders for injured fielders.
But while the rule has gone the way of the dodo and is now a footnote in cricket history, it has left some great stories, whether or not they are true.
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