Arjuna Ranatunga captained Sri Lanka in ICC World Cup 1996 © AFP
Arjuna Ranatunga captained Sri Lanka in World Cup 1996 © AFP

Colombo: Jan 16, 2015

World Cup 1996 winning cricket skipper Arjuna Ranatunga began work on Friday as Sri Lanka‘s ports and shipping minister after being appointed to new President Maithripala Sirisena’s cabinet.

The 51-year-old Ranatunga, dubbed Captain Cool after winning the 1996 World Cup, vowed to end a culture of backhanders that has given the island’s ports an unenviable reputation as a hotbed of corruption.

“I have a big responsibility to clean up this place,” the portly Ranatunga said on his first day in charge of his ministry in the capital Colombo.

“My priority is to fight corruption and also to make sure that corrupt politicians are not accommodated on our side.”

Ranatunga, who briefly served as a junior tourism minister a decade ago, is the first former Sri Lankan international to become a cabinet minister. While Ranatunga was celebrating his elevation, Sirisena’s victory in last week’s presidential election has brought a halt to his former teammate Sanath Jayasuriya’s ministerial career. The former opening batsman, and another member of the 1996 World Cup-winning side, had been the deputy minister for postal services under Sirisena’s predecessor Mahinda Rajapakse but he has now lost his post. Several internationals in the cricket-mad sub-continent have forged political careers after retirement, including former World Cup winning captain Imran Khan, who is now one of Pakistan’s main opposition leaders.