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Friday, January 29, 1999 Published at 14:08 GMT

Sport: Cricket

Ranatunga defiant

Sri Lankan players surround the Australian umpires

Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga has refused to apologise following his suspended six-match ban for his conduct during the no-ball "throwing" row against England.

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The International Cricket Council (ICC) disciplinary panel also fined Ranatunga 75% of his match fee.

But in a statement released as he led his team in their following encounter with the English, he said he had only been trying to defend bowler Muttiah Muralitharan.

The spinner was no balled by umpire Ross Emerson during the one-day international in Adelaide.

The main points of the two-page document read: "My actions following the no-balling of Muralitharan were motivated by my responsibility to demonstrate support for him in this difficult situation.

"I believe Muralitharan is a player who possesses talent which should be a source of celebration for cricket lovers the world over."

The 35-year-old skipper did admit a responsibility to uphold the spirit as well as Laws of the game, and accepted that his actions had caused embarrassment "to the opposition team, to members of the public and to officials".

Demo outside hearing

Pat Murphy reports on the ICC's action (BBC Radio Five Live)
Ranatunga was charged under clause 1 of the ICC Code of Conduct which calls for captains to be responsible at all times for ensuring play is conducted within the spirit and laws of the game.

He argued heatedly with Emerson and threatened to pull his team from the field.

A group of about 40 noisy Sri Lankan supporters staged a protest outside the disciplinary hearing, waving Sri Lankan flags, singing the national anthem and carrying placards.

Ranatunga, Muralitharan and Emerson were all asked to appear before the commission along with England players Alec Stewart and Graeme Hick, umpire Tony McQuillan, Sri Lankan batsman Sanath Jayasuriya and team manager Ranjith Fernando.

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