Facing Life’s Bouncers and Yorkers with a firm stance: Life lessons from Ranjan Madugalle

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Insightful. Entertaining. Engaging. These are three words that describe the latest guest talk delivered by former Sri Lanka Test Cricket captain and ICC Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle at Fortude in an afternoon of rich experience sharing.

In the first part of the talk, Ranjan drew insights from the lessons learned and the challenges faced in his journey from a young school-boy cricketer to the ICC Chief Match Referee, a position he has held since 2001.

“No journey is a joy ride. No journey is planned. No journey is structured the way you want.”

Bringing up experiences from different turning points in his life, Ranjan stressed on the importance of having clear goals, a vision, and the readiness to accept defeats and setbacks, in one’s walk of life.

At the tender age of 11, Ranjan moved schools from Trinity College, Kandy to Royal College, Colombo. At Royal College, Ranjan experienced ‘society in itself’ mingling with students from different walks of life. This shift, according to Ranjan, taught him a very important lesson: the importance of adapting to new environments, which helped him later as a cricketer, as a professional, and in the leadership role he currently plays at ICC.

“Don’t ever think that you are not a leader. Leaders are made by circumstances. Leadership is a never-ending process.”

Speaking about leadership, Ranjan said that the ability to get on with different people, follow instructions, absorb everything, communicate clearly and to know when to move on are crucial leadership skills. He encouraged leaders to empower people to do what they believe is right and intervene only when leadership is required.

“Understand your own culture, your beliefs, and values. Build your own core base, just like a batsman who has a proper stance.”

According to Ranjan, having a firm understanding of one’s own culture, beliefs, and values can help us stay firmly grounded in the face of different viewpoints- a useful skill to learn when working in the multinational world. To build connections with others, cultivating empathy and respect towards cultural differences and diversity is essential, he further elaborated.

“Never take a step back. Don’t ever think you are only half as good just because you are born in a certain part of this world. Fight if you think you are right. If you are wrong, have the graciousness to take a step back and accept it.”

Recollecting his thoughts on the day he decided to retire from Cricket as a national player, Ranjan said that he wanted to invest his time, resources, and efforts on something that would give him the best chance in life to move on, so that he can be a better human being. Ranjan ended his talk by encouraging Fortudites to benchmark high and constantly improve thereupon.

In the Q&A segment, Ranjan spoke about the importance of embracing technology early, innovating without losing fundamentals, tech innovation at ICC, and being pure in mind and body. When asked whether he had any role models, Ranjan spoke fondly of his father who inculcated values in him and drove him to what he is today. Answering a question raised by a Fortudite who joined from India, Ranjan made an amusing comparison between the contrasting leadership styles of aggressive Virat Kohli and cool-headed M.S. Dhoni- the two captains who led the Indian national cricket team to victory. He also took on several cricket-related questions posed by Fortude cricket fans.

The number of questions posed at Ranjan is a testament to the very engaging nature of the talk, thanks to his open and relaxed demeanor and humorous anecdotes. With a sea of experience in the corporate world and multicultural experience as a cricketer and a leader in the ICC, Ranjan drew insightful parallels and analogies between cricket and the corporate world, in one of the most engaging guest talks at Fortude.


Ranjan Madugalle is a former Sri Lankan cricketer and a former captain of the Sri Lankan cricket team. He was appointed to the Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees in 1994 and became the first person to hold the position of chief match referee in 2001, a post he still holds. In 2015, Ranjan was recognized as the first match referee to supervise 300 One-Day Internationals, and he has officiated over 600 internationals to date- the most by a Referee, which includes refereeing three Cricket World Cup finals. He was conferred National Honors and the title of “Deshabandu” by H.E President of Sri Lanka in 2017 for his distinguished service to the nation.