I prefer Virat to be a little sober, says Ranatunga

Countering diverse challenges and uttering cheeky one-liners come naturally to Arjuna Ranatunga. The former Sri Lanka captain, who held aloft the World Cup after humbling Australia at Lahore in 1996, remains a busy man.

Currently the minister of petroleum resources development in the Sri Lankan Government, Arjuna Ranatunga keeps a reluctant-eye on cricket.   -  PTI

Countering diverse challenges and uttering cheeky one-liners come naturally to Arjuna Ranatunga. The former Sri Lanka captain, who held aloft the World Cup after humbling Australia at Lahore in 1996, remains a busy man.

Currently the minister of petroleum resources development in the Sri Lankan Government, Ranatunga keeps a reluctant-eye on cricket. Anguished with the sport’s governing system in the Emerald Isle but hoping that there will be a turn-around, he spoke about issues affecting the game and made some observations regarding Indian cricket.

Excerpts…

Captain then, minister now

It is all about taking decisions. I am not scared to take decisions and that came from cricket. You have to take strong decisions when things are bad.

Sri Lankan cricket

I read the newspaper but I hardly watch cricket. I was very disappointed after the last cricket elections. There are roles in this country, and I was not eligible to contest as the president. Cricket was like a religion to this nation, and we don’t have that religion now. That is nothing to do with the cricketers. It’s all about wrong administration. I am a politician and a cricketer but I still lose because cricket in this country is a mafia run by a business group.

2011 World Cup final

When it comes to the 2011 World Cup final, I never said I was concerned about match fixing. I said there were issues and we need to address them. I am not taking the credit away from India at all, I can remember when I was seated with all the captains, my heart said Sri Lanka but India was the best side. I was not comfortable with the way we approached that game and some of the things that happened in the final. So I said that these are the things that the ICC should get into.

Fitness fads

No one talks about cricket-fitness. A lot of people talk about the six-packs. Then you get models. I always say pick 15 models and tell them to play cricket. You take Duleep Mendis, (GR) Viswanath, (Mike) Gatting and (Colin) Cowdrey, these players wouldn’t have played cricket if people running cricket today ran cricket then, including me!

Unconventional cricketers

We shouldn’t stop them (the Lasith Malingas and the Ajantha Mendises) from coming up. We shouldn’t go into these cricket theories, you need to identify the talent and groom them. I think that’s where we are lacking.

The 1996 World Cup triumph

The 1996 team was not the best team we had but it was the most committed team I picked. I wanted a team which gives me 100 per cent and players who will give their lives to the country. That was the reason we won the World Cup.

Advice to Virat Kohli

I prefer him to be a little sober. You take India and Sri Lanka, we have a different culture, we are not aggressive as the Australians or the English people. You don't have to show a lot of aggression as a captain all the time because that can drain through the entire system. That’s one reason when I get angry, I don’t show. If he asks me a question, I will say calm down a bit. He needs to be aggressive, but he doesn't have to show. He is too young, he will learn.