Pakistani Premier Imran Khan during his two-day state visit of Sri Lanka addressing a gathering of dignitaries commended former Sri Lankan cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga for his efforts to instil a winning mindset for his former cricket team members.
“Sports teaches you something which you do not learn in university or school. Because the idea of competing in sports is to prepare you for struggles in life. The problem is that sportsmen when they finish their sporting career, they live in their comfort zone, do not want to take any new challenges and the entire experience of struggle which is taught to you on the sporting field is lost,” Prime Minister Khan said.
The former Pakistan cricket captain recalled that his political debut was as tough as his entry into the cricketing world, adding that he didn’t accept defeat. “When I came into politics, just like my first test match, my party never got one seat. We were wiped out. Everyone wrote my obituary in politics. I was the butt of all jokes not for one year, two years or five years. For almost 14 years people laughed at me,” Khan said.
The former cricketing legend also dished out some advice for former Sri Lankan cricket captain- turned politician Arjuna Ranatunga, who was in the audience. “I didn’t join a political party, I started alone, with no political background. No established politicians joined me anyway, because they thought I have no chance of winning. So I started with very few people. For fourteen years, Arjuna a message for you, for fourteen years, I was alone. It was the lessons I learned in cricket that helped me in politics. The key lesson is that you only lose when you give up,” he said.
Premier Imran Khan also commented on the gradual development of the Sri Lankan cricket team prior to the 1996 Cricket world cup win. “I must say it’s a pleasure for me to watch my old colleagues here. I have watched Sri Lanka. I came here first, straight out of university in 1995 and I remember playing against the Sri Lankan team. I always thought they had talent, especially batting talent. But then they did not have the self-belief,” he said.
“They did not believe that they could win. It was exactly the same with us, when I first played for my country, we toured England, I remember my senior players telling me, look do not think that we can beat the English. We’ve just come here to learn. And as it happened, a series which we should have won, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory because we didn’t have self-belief. So I remember in Sri Lanka faced that same problem. Gradually I saw the team evolve, develop self-belief. I must say, I commend you Arjuna, because you were the one who actually instilled in them that grit, determination, self-belief. We were all very pleased to watch you win the world cup in Lahore,” Khan added.