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Goafest 2016: ‘I led the ‘96 team as a school principal’, says Arjuna Ranatunga

Ranatunga mentions how he was offered a million dollars after the 1996 world cup for an advertisement, and he asked them to go and convince his mother

Archit Ambekar | Goa | April 11, 2016


The second day of Goafest began with a bang where Rajdeep Sardesai was in conversation with the Minister of  Ports and Shipping and Former Sri Lankan Cricket Captain Arjuna Ranatunga.

Sardesai began by asking the minister about the philosophy that motivated his team to bring home the 1996 World Cup at a time when his country was at a threshold of civil war.

Addressing a packed audience, Ranatunga said, “When I was leading the team, what I looked for was a dedicated team where no one bothered about the money. I led the team as a school principal.”

The conversation then moved towards everything from politics to his ‘strategic captaincy’ against the ruthless and aggressive Australians and more. As he recalls, he jokingly said that when he was playing Australia in the World Cup final, Ranatunga hit Shane Warne for a six and literally stuck his tongue out.

The minister then went on to mention an instance when two Indian journalists wanted to ask him questions about Shane Warne in a media interaction. “A well plotted plan during the press conference did fulfil what the journalists wanted to hear about Shane Warne from me.”

In humour of the moment, Sardesai said that he’s been a politician since his cricket days. Sardesai then questioned him about his favourite format of cricket. Ranatguna replied, “A T20 is like Maggi noodles - it’s quick and filling but non-healthy. A test match is like mom cooked food - it is detailed and can last for days.” Though he hasn’t watched cricket for a while now, but he does opine on his preference. For him, T20 will not last for a longer period in the future.

Adding further, he said, “Asians are not power cricketers. We are ‘technically correct’ cricketers. Test is our thing, while 20-20 is all about power.”

Sardesai continued asking, “When you have a roomful of advertising and media guys, it’s difficult to avoid a question on him not taking up any commercials.”

Sharing an anecdote, the minister said, “When I played my first test match, I was in school. Once I got an offer and I asked the brand manager to meet my mother. After listening to him for a long time about money, fame and other things, my mom said, ‘Sorry, but my son is not for sale.’ She always told me not to ever sell my talent or body for money. I was offered a million dollars after the 1996 world cup. But I asked them to go and convince my mother.”

Now, a father to a pretty princess and a husband, Ranatunga was asked if no one in the room could convince him to do a commercial. The former captain wittingly said, “Convince my three ladies and I’m ready.”

Concluding the session, Ranatunga also shared his ideas of how to lead a team when you hail from a country of conflict - Respect your players; Listen to them; Let them create their own identity; Have a plan and self-confidence; And lastly to have a target!

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