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The year is 2035. Over the last 25 years several international cricketers have shaped the world by taking up affairs of government. Starting with Sanath Jayasuriya's political debut in 2010, these are their stories.
Despite worries that Jayasuriya would have trouble defeating Arjuna Ranatunga, who was his rival in the 2010 election, Jayasuriya's disdain for anything short and wide helped him campaign to an overwhelming victory over his former team-mate and captain. Jayasuriya's popularity saw him fast-tracked to the presidency, a post he revolutionised, employing extremely aggressive economic and social policies in the first 15 months to get his administration off to a flyer. Taxes were cut ruthlessly, with immense power, while government spending was also slashed away at an alarming rate. Jayasuriya even energised Sri Lanka's languishing economy by doing away with land transport and making helicopters the primary mode of transport: a policy that stemmed from his natural preference for going aerial.
Much was expected of the great legspinner when he became Australia's minister of finance in 2020 on the back of his natural affinity for commercial ventures. Despite public annoyance at MPs Adam Gilchrist and Ian Healy, who repeatedly bleated "Nice one Shaayne" from the back bench whenever Warne did something remotely praiseworthy, Warne was a popular choice. However, his stint at the top level was ultimately far more entertaining than effective. While he led the nation to a period of incredible prosperity early in his term, the decision to gamble Australia's entire annual GDP on a poker match proved to be a wrong'un. Warne lost billions, sending the country spiralling into a recession that was only slightly mitigated by the booming diuretic drug industry, which had taken off after his appointment to cabinet. Mobile phone companies also did well during Warne's spell, as his unrestricted access to Australia's phone directory resulted in millions of citizens receiving random text messages on a regular basis, many of them simply reading, "What are you wearing?"
Although he did not command as much respect from the denizens of New Zealand as the country's previous prime minister, Gandalf the Grey, Ryder was quick to make his own mark on the nation's history, lowering the drinking age to 12. Despite the many detractors who criticised Ryder's bombastic nature, his swashbuckling style and aggressive tactics saw the country do well for a while, even if he looked slightly worse for wear at most morning engagements. Window salesmen, hand surgeons and therapists prospered while Ryder was in office, with many young New Zealanders taking to Ryder's truly unique style of celebration. However, his exit from the political arena proved less than graceful, when in a rage he ordered several small New Zealand towns aerially bombed after he was eventually voted out.
Despite showing immense talent as a policy-maker and adviser, Dravid's lack of natural charisma hindered his chances of becoming prime minister of India. However, he was extremely adept at occupying political office for extremely long periods of time, as he proved with a decades-long stranglehold on his position as India's foreign minister. Dravid provided much-needed stability to the country, allowing other politicians to take risks and conduct business freely around him. He earned himself the nickname "The Wall" for his stoic, unyielding nature when it came to trade talks and general diplomacy. He was especially effective at handling hostile negotiations, often facing down spirited overseas foreign ministers in 13-hour debating marathons, in which many of them slipped into irreversible comas.
Ponting was able to capitalise on his initial forward movement as prime minister of Australia and led the nation relatively well during his time in office. He was considered fairly lucky, having inherited a cabinet full of political superstars from the previous incumbent, and this led to a period of immense prosperity for Australia during Ponting's first term. Any ministerial cock-ups were dealt with harshly by Ponting, whose preferred method of punishment for delinquent MPs would be to place hands on hips and stare irately at the culprit for what seemed like hours, right in the middle of a parliamentary session. Ponting was understandably not a favourite of foreign leaders, partly because they questioned the ethics of his incredibly intimidating politics, but primarily because they did not like shaking hands with a man who had spent the better part of their meetings spitting profusely into his palms.
Andrew Fernando is a student at Auckland University. He blogs at www.cricketordeath.com
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