|Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation|
20 December 2018 – 21 November 2019
|Prime Minister||Ranil Wickremesinghe|
|Preceded by||Nimal Siripala De Silva|
|Succeeded by||Mahinda Amaraweera|
|Ministry of Petroleum Resources Development|
22 May 2017 – 26 October 2018
|Prime Minister||Ranil Wickremesinghe|
|Preceded by||Chandima Weerakkody|
|Succeeded by||Kabir Hashim|
|Minister of Ports & Shipping|
12 January 2015 – 22 May 2017
|Prime Minister||Ranil Wickremesinghe|
|Preceded by||Mahinda Rajapaksa|
|Succeeded by||Mahinda Samarasinghe|
|Deputy Minister of Tourism|
|Prime Minister||Ratnasiri Wickremanayake|
|Member of Parliament|
for Gampaha District
|Member of Parliament|
for Kalutara District
|Member of Parliament|
for Colombo District
|President of Sri Lanka Cricket|
|Born||1 December 1963|
Gampaha, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)
|Political party||Democratic National Movement|
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(2001 - 2010, 2015)
Democratic National Alliance
(2010 - 2015)
|United National Front for Good Governance|
United People's Freedom Alliance
|Alma mater||Ananda College Colombo|
|Height||1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|Test debut (cap 9)||17–21 February 1982 v England|
|Last Test||6–10 August 2000 v South Africa|
|ODI debut (cap 24)||14 February 1982 v England|
|Last ODI||30 May 1999 v Kenya|
|Domestic team information|
|1982–2001||Sinhalese Sports Club|
Source: Cricinfo, 8 September 2015
Deshamanya Arjuna Ranatunga (Sinhala: අර්ජුන රණතුංග; Tamil: அர்ஜூணா ரணதுங்க; born 1 December 1963) is a former Sri Lankan cricketer and 1996 Cricket World Cup winning captain for Sri Lanka. He is regarded as the pioneer to lift Sri Lankan cricket from underdog status into a leading force in the cricketing world. During his playing days, he was regarded as one of the fattest cricketers to have played at international level.
After retirement, he worked in many posts of Sri Lanka Cricket administration. By entering his father's stream of politics, Ranatunga started his political career in 2005, and is now the former cabinet Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation.
Ranatunga learnt cricket from Ranadeb.
Upon retirement from playing cricket he entered politics, joining the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and entered parliament, from Colombo District, in the 2001 elections. He served a tenure as deputy minister for tourism, and also served as the president of Sri Lanka Cricket until December 2008. He joined the Democratic National Alliance in 2010 and contested the 2010 elections. In January 2021, he revealed that he would distance himself from the United National Party and would not take part in party activities in the future.
Arjuna Ranatunga is the son of Reggie Padmasena Rantunga, the third Governor of Sabaragamuwa, serving between June 2005 and February 2008. His mother Nandani Ranatunga is a retired teacher. He has five siblings; cricketer Sanjeeva Ranatunga, along with Dammika Ranatunga, Nishantha Ranatunga, Prasanna Ranatunga, and Ruwan Ranatunga. He was born on 1 December 1963 in Gampaha near Colombo. He has a son Dhyan Ranatunga who is also a cricketer who currently lives in United States and in 2021, he was also signed to play for Minor League Cricket tournament in the USA.
Ranatunga received his education at Ananda College, which has produced many known faces in Sri Lanka. Sidath Wettimuny, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal and Thilina Kandamby are among the players to pass out from Ananda College. He won the Observer Sri Lankan Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award on two occasions in 1980 and 1982 and became the first person to receive the award twice.
Junior World Cricket
Ranatunga played for Sri Lanka under-20 against India under-20 in 1980. In his very first game, he scored 128 not out. That Indian team featured the likes of Ravi Shastri, Lalchand Rajput, Sadanand Vishwanath, Chandrakant Pandit, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and Bharat Arun.
Early international career
Arjuna Ranatunga made his test debut on 17 February 1982 against England at the age of 18 in Sri Lanka's first ever test match at the P. Sara Oval. He scored 50 on test debut and also became the first Sri Lankan to score a half century in test cricket. He also shared a 99 run partnership with Ranjan Madugalle for the fourth wicket in Sri Lanka's inaugural test match. He was also working as an insurance broker in his early days of his international career. He made his debut World Cup appearance for Sri Lanka during the 1983 Cricket World Cup. He then featured in Sri Lanka's historical test match against England at Lord's in 1984 which also marked Sri Lanka's first ever test match at Lord's.
Ranatunga went on to captain the Sri Lanka national cricket team in 1988, taking control of it for the next eleven years, transforming it from a weak, routinely defeated team into a competitive and successful unit. He propelled Sri Lanka in a massive run chase of 313 against Zimbabwe at the 1992 World Cup by scoring unbeaten 88 which also marked the first instance that a team had successfully chased down the target in excess 300 in ODI history. Aravinda de Silva was the team captain at the 1992 World Cup.
He led the team to win the 1996 World Cup and he scored the winning runs for Sri Lanka in the final and remained unbeaten on 47. His innovative captaincy took a Sri Lanka team, given little chance prior to the competition, for cricket's greatest prize. His strategies were commended by many cricketing greats and followed by their teams. He was the brain behind the strategy of scoring as many runs as possible in the first 15 overs of an ODI match in which there are field restrictions. This strategy was still followed by the batsmen in the Powerplays. He was widely recognised as a belligerent leader and was famous for defending his players at all costs regardless of what they did.
His younger brother Dammika Ranatunga made his test debut against Australia in 1989-90 when Arjuna was the captain of the Sri Lankan test side. It also became the first instance for Sri Lanka cricket whereas a cricketer had made his international debut for a team captained by his brother. His another brother Sanjeewa Ranatunga also made his test debut when Arjuna was still the captain of Sri Lankan test side.
Arjuna Ranatunga is one of Sri Lanka's greatest captains. He led the national team to victory in the 1996 World Cup. He represented Sri Lanka in 93 Tests and 269 One-Day Internationals (ODIs). While Ranatunga scored 241 runs during Sri Lanka's 1996 World Cup winning campaign, he finished with the highest average in the tournament. There were other batsmen who scored more prolifically in the tournament, but Ranatunga's average of 120.50 stood out. The next best was Aravinda de Silva with 89.60. For batsmen with over 100 runs in the tournament, Ranatunga had the second highest strike rate with 114.76. Only Sanath Jayasuriya was ahead with 131.54.
In June 2000, Ranatunga played in Sri Lanka's 100th Test match, becoming the only player to represent his country in their first and hundredth Test. He retired from playing cricket in 2001 and became a television commentator. In 2005, he joined the International Cricket Council's cricket committee. He was then appointed as the chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket in January 2008.
Ranatunga was known for controversially calling a runner during long innings due to his level of fitness and also he had reportedly twisted his ankle. After the second final of the One Day triangular series in Australia in the 1995/6 season, Ranatunga instructed his players not to shake the Australian players' hands. Australian wicketkeeper batsman Ian Healy who was initially not happy with Arjuna's decision to take a runner abused him by saying "You don't get a runner for being an overweight fat cunt". However, Healy denied reports of racially abusing Arjuna during that match.
Defence of Muralitharan
Ranatunga is also remembered for his stand in a One Day International against England. Australian Umpire Ross Emerson called Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing. (Muralitharan was subsequently cleared by bio-mechanical experts hired by the ICC.) Ranatunga exchanged heated words with umpire Emerson and led his team to a point just inside the boundary line, halting play and giving the impression that he was about to forfeit the match, until the Sri Lankan management conferred with him and play resumed. English captain, Alec Stewart, was openly critical of Ranatunga's behaviour. In a comment caught on the stump microphone he was heard to say to Ranatunga "Your conduct today has been appalling for a country's captain". The match was bad-tempered, with instances of shoulder-bumping.
Wrangles with Warne
There has always been a grudging mutual admiration between Shane Warne and Ranatunga. When the former visited Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami to aid Muralitharan in his "great work" there, he developed an amiable rapport with his long-time foe: "We even wagged," he confirmed later. Not long after, however, Ranatunga was lambasting him in a scathing newspaper attack. He also urged the ICC to ban Warne from participating at the 2003 Cricket World Cup after the latter had reportedly failed drugs test prior to the World Cup.
"You can't be mates with everyone," Warne wrote in his 2008 book Shane Warne's Century, serialised by The Times in September, "and if there was any way I could knock him down to number 101[page needed] for the purposes of this book, I'd be delighted to do so. But having taken on the task, I want to do it seriously, and the fact is that Ranatunga helped to put Sri Lanka on the cricket map. And you know what? Deep down, I'll quietly admit that I rated him as a cricketer."
Remarks on IPL
During the tenure as the chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket, he termed the Indian franchise T20 league Indian Premier League as "instant noodles" when it was introduced in 2008 and also blamed the IPL for causing severe financial losses to the cricket board due to the postponement of England's scheduled tour to Sri Lanka. He also urged all Sri Lankan players to refrain from taking part in the 2013 IPL season due to the fact that Sri Lankan players were banned from featuring in IPL matches in Chennai by the Government of Tamil Nadu.
2018 political crisis
In October 2018, Arjuna who then served as the Petroleum minister was arrested by Sri Lanka Police following his alleged involvement in one of the turn of events as part of the 2018 Sri Lankan constitutional crisis.
Match fixing allegations
In July 2017, Ranatunga made a serious allegation that the 2011 Cricket World Cup Final match between India and Sri Lanka was fixed. He demanded a probe into the events at the final match. The erstwhile Sports Minister of Sri Lanka Mahindananda Aluthgamage also supported Ranatunga's allegations. However, three years later, Sri Lankan Police suspended the match fixing probe citing lack of sufficient evidence. Later, International Cricket Council rubbished the match fixing claims made by Ranatunga and Aluthgamage. In 2018, former Sri Lanka Cricket President Thilanga Sumathipala alleged both Arjuna and Aravinda de Silva to have involved in match fixing in 1994 and insisted that both of them had received money from Indian bookies. However, both Arjuna and Aravinda denied the allegations levelled by Sumathipala.
Criticism of Sri Lanka cricket
Arjuna Ranatunga has been a vocal critic of Sri Lanka Cricket administrators over the years especially after 2015 where Sri Lanka national cricket has suffered the worst decline at international cricket. He has blamed the cricket officials for not taking responsibility which has led to a significant downfall of Sri Lankan cricket and has repeatedly called for restructuring of the domestic structure in Sri Lanka which has been diluted with numerous clubs featuring in domestic first-class cricket competitions. He also slammed Sri Lanka Cricket for recruiting foreign coaches instead of grooming young talents and also termed the foreign coaches as "garbage".
In June 2021, he also criticised sports minister Namal Rajapaksa for failing to solve the issues in the cricket administration despite the fact that Namal had invited Arjuna to rectify the current state of Sri Lanka cricket and the loopholes in the system. In a television interview as of June 2021, he made a controversial statement that Sri Lanka cricket officials arranged the bilateral limited overs series against second string Indian side with the intention of gaining revenue through television marketing and also further insisted that arranging international series against second string India team has undermined dignity of the legacy of Sri Lanka cricket and therefore would insult the Sri Lankan cricket. In addition, he also made another controversial statement that he would give three slaps to the current crop of national cricketers in wake of the disciplinary violations regarding the breach of bio-secure bubble by three of the Sri Lankan cricketers during the limited overs series tour of England.
He entered into politics by joining the Sri Lanka Freedom Party led by Chandrika Kumaratunga, and contested the 2001 parliamentary elections with PA from Colombo District. After the UPFA victory in 2004, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment Promotion. In 2006, he resigned from the post of junior minister tourism in order to concentrate on Sri Lanka Cricket administration.
In 2010, Ranatunga left the UPFA and joined the Democratic Party of the DNA led by Sarath Fonseka, and was made the deputy leader of the Democratic Party. In November 2012, he resigned from the Democratic Party, but continued his affiliation with DNA. He endorsed Maithripala Sirisena in the 2015 Presidential election, and after Sirisena's victory Ranatunga was appointed Minister of Highways, Ports & Shipping. In 2020, he was deemed as a possible candidate to replace Ranil Wickremasinghe as the leader of the United National Party who had resigned from the position in wake of the defeat at the parliamentary elections. In October 2020, he resigned from the post of Gampaha District Leader.
- Ranatunga's highest Test batting score of 135 not out was made against Pakistan, Colombo, 1985–1986
- His best Test bowling effort of 2 for 17 came against New Zealand, Kandy, 1983–1984
- Ranatunga's captaincy record was as follows: 56 matches, 12 wins, 19 losses, 25 draws.
- One-day Internationals
- He has the record for the most runs scored by any batsman in ODI history at number 5 position (4675 runs) and also the first to score over 4500 ODI runs when batting at no 5 position.
|*||Remained not out|
|Lost||The match was lost by Sri Lanka.|
|Won||The match was won by Sri Lanka.|
|Draw||The match was drawn.|
|||111||India||Colombo, Sri Lanka||Sinhalese Sports Club Ground||30 August 1985||Draw|||
|||135*||Pakistan||Colombo, Sri Lanka||P Sara Oval||22 March 1986||Draw|||
|||127||Australia||Colombo, Sri Lanka||Sinhalese Sports Club Ground||17 August 1992||Lost|||
|||131||South Africa||Moratuwa, Sri Lanka||Tyronne Fernando Stadium||25 August 1995||Draw|||
|||101*||Pakistan||Durban, South Africa||Kingsmead Cricket Ground||2 December 1994||Lost|||
|||102*||Pakistan||Gujranwala, Pakistan||Jinnah Stadium, Sialkot||29 September 1995||Lost|||
|||131*||India||Colombo, Sri Lanka||R.Premadasa Stadium||18 July 1997||Won|||
|||102||New Zealand||Colombo, Sri Lanka||Sinhalese Sports Club Ground||5 July 1998||Won|||
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