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Early days

Ranatunga comes from Gampaha, a town twenty miles north of Colombo. He, along with his brothers, studied at Ananda College Colombo where his mother was a teacher. Arjuna's cricketing career started and was carefully nurtured at school. He played cricket for both the junior and senior teams and captained the Ananda College senior team for two years.

First-class and Test debuts

A left-handed batsman and useful right arm medium pace bowler, he made his first-class debut in 1981 at the age of eighteen and a year later played in Sri Lanka's inaugural Test match. He went on to score Sri Lanka's first half century in this game.

Sri Lankan captaincy

Ranatunga went on to captain Sri Lanka in 1988, taking control of the national team for the next eleven years through one of its most successful periods. He was widely recognised as a master tactician and was famous for defending his players at all costs.



Ranatunga's weight was also notable, and gave rise to an incident during a game played in humid conditions when he called for a runner, claiming that he had "sprained something". Opposition (Australian) wicket-keeper Ian Healy, responded that he could not get a runner for being "an overweight, unfit, fat cunt", a comment picked up by the stump microphones and broadcast on television. Ranatunga was known for controversially calling a runner during long innings due to his level of fitness. In the finals of the One Day triangular series in Australia later in the 1995/6 Season, Ranatunga instructed his players not to shake the Australian players hands.

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, 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"

Wrangles with Warne

He is noted also for his repeated intense criticism of the Australian team, especially his long-standing rivalry with Shane Warne. While this saw him a maligned figure among the Australian public, his ability to lead the long-standing minnows of world cricket to a World Cup win, over Australia in the final, is arguably one of the greatest displays of captaincy in the history of cricket. Australia was renowned for intimidating its opponents, and Ranatunga's ability to take on and rattle the team of renowned sledgers inspired his players to stand up to them in an era in which few other sides could.

There has always been between Warne and Ranatunga a grudging mutual admiration. 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 report with his long-time foe: "We even wagged," he confirmed later. Not long after, however, Ranatunga was lambasting him in a scathing newspaper attack.

"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 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."

March 2009 Attack on Sri Lankan Cricket Team

In March 2009 he was again in the midst of a controversy after the Sri Lankan team was attacked by terrorists in Lahore. It is said, after many teams like India and Australia cancelled the tour of Pakistan, citing unstability in the region as a reason, Ranatunga was the one pushing really hard for the Pakistan tour of Sri Lankan Cricket team. It was said by the media in Sri Lanka and India, that one reason for Arjuna pushing really hard for the tour was the differences he had with the International Cricket Council and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

1996 World Cup

The Sri Lankan national team were considered perpetual underdogs but this image changed completely during the 1996 Cricket World Cup, when Sri Lanka defeated tournament favourites Australia to win it under the captaincy of Ranatunga. This victory, for which Ranatunga was a pivotal part both as batsman and captain, has ensured that Sri Lanka are no longer underestimated on the world cricket stage.

Arjuna Ranatunga and Darren Lehmann of Australia are the only batsmen to score the winning run in the world cup (as the only two teams to successfully chase a target rather than batting first).

Final cricketing days

Ranatunga lost the national team captaincy in 1999 after Sri Lanka's poor showing at the World Cup in England, although he was chosen as one of five Wisden Cricketers of the Year for that year. He retired from playing cricket in 2001.

After cricket

He entered into politics by joining the PA led by Chandrika Kumaratunga. Later, he was the Deputy Minister of Tourism for Sri Lanka.


  • Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan first-class
  • Sinhalese Sports Club

Career highlights


Test Debut: vs England, Colombo, 1981-1982
Last Test: vs South Africa, Colombo, 2000-2001

  • 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

ODI Debut: vs England, Colombo, 1981-1982
Last ODI: vs Kenya, Southampton, 1999 World Cup

  • His highest ODI batting score of 131 not out was made against India, Colombo, 1997
  • Ranatunga's best bowling figures of 4 for 14 came against India at Kanpur in 1986-1987
  • His captaincy record was as follows: 193 matches, 89 wins, 95 losses, 1 tie, 8 no result
  • Until New Zealand's Stephen Fleming overtook him in October 2006 at the ICC Champions Trophy, Ranatunga held the record for the captaining the most ODI matches.

Career Centuries

Test Centuries

The following table illustrates a summary of the Test centuries scored by Arjuna Ranatunga

  • the column , * indicates being not out
  • The column title Match refers to the Match Number of the player's career
Test Centuries of Arjuna Ranatunga Runs Match Against City/Country Venue Year 111 10 India Colombo, Sri Lanka Sinhalese Sports Club Ground 1985 135* 18 Pakistan Colombo, Sri Lanka P. Saravanamuttu Stadium 1986 127 34 Australia Colombo, Sri Lanka Sinhalese Sports Club Ground 1992 131 43 South Africa Moratuwa, Sri Lanka Tyronne Fernando Stadium 1993

One Day International Centuries ODI Centuries of Arjuna Ranatunga Runs Match Against City/Country Venue Year 101* 153 Pakistan Durban, South Africa Kingsmead 1994 102* 166 Pakistan Gujranwala, Pakistan Municipal Stadium 1995 131* 215 India Colombo, Sri Lanka R. Premadasa Stadium 1997 102 240 New Zealand Colombo, Sri Lanka Sinhalese Sports Club Ground 1998 Preceded by
Ranjan Madugalle Sri Lankan Test and ODI Captain
1988/89-1999 Succeeded by
Sanath Jayasuriya

External links
  • Cricinfo profile on Arjuna Ranatunga
  • HowSTAT! statistical profile on Arjuna Ranatunga
v "? d "? e Sri Lanka squad "? 1983 Cricket World Cup 1 Mendis (c) "? 2 De Alwis (wk) "? 3 De Mel "? 4 De Silva "? 5 Dias "? 6 John "? 7 Kuruppu "? 8 Madugalle "? 9 Ranatunga "? 10 Ratnayake "? 11 Samarasekera "? 12 Wettimuny
v "? d "? e Sri Lanka squad "? 1987 Cricket World Cup 1 Mendis (c) "? 2 Anurasiri "? 3 De Mel "? 4 De Silva "? 5 Dias "? 6 Garusinha "? 7 Jeganathan "? 8 John "? 9 Kuruppu (wk) "? 10 Madugalle "? 11 Mahanama "? 12 Ranatunga "? 13 RJ Ratnayake "? 14 JR Ratnayeke
v "? d "? e Sri Lanka squad "? 1992 Cricket World Cup 1 De Silva (c) "? 2 Anurasiri "? 3 Gurusinha "? 4 Hathurusingha "? 5 Jayasuriya "? 6 Kalpage "? 7 Mahanama "? 8 Ramanayake "? 9 Ranatunga "? 10 Ratnayake "? 11 Samarasekera "? 12 Tillakaratne (wk) "? 13 Wickramasinghe "? 14 Wijegunawardene
v "? d "? e Sri Lanka squad "? 1996 Cricket World Cup (Winners) 1 Ranatunga (c) "? 2 Atapattu "? 3 Chandana "? 4 De Silva "? 5 Dharmasena "? 6 Gurusinha "? 7 Kaluwitharana (wk) "? 8 Jayasuriya "? 9 Mahanama "? 10 Muralitharan "? 11 Pushpakumara "? 12 Tillakaratne "? 13 Vaas "? 14 Wickramasinghe "? Coach: Whatmore
v "? d "? e Sri Lanka squad "? 1999 Cricket World Cup 1 Ranatunga (c) "? 2 De Silva "? 3 Jayasuriya "? 4 Kaluwitharana (wk) "? 5 Mahanama "? 6 Atapattu "? 7 Jayawardene "? 8 Tillakaratne "? 9 Vaas "? 10 Chandana "? 11 Upashantha "? 12 Muralitharan "? 13 Hathurusingha "? 14 Kalpage "? 15 Wickramasinghe "? Coach: Dias


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All images and video © Copyright 2006-2017 Christopher Taylor, Content and maps by their respective owner. All rights reserved.
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