Kumar Sangakkara

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

2015: new records, Graphic courtesy The Times of India



Kumar Sangakkara was a law student.

Sangakkara: Glorious innings

The Times of India, Aug 20 2015 Partha Bhaduri

Sanga was a multi-faceted batting legend who now needs to give back to the game

One of the most exquisitely engineered batting ma chines of his age, Kumar Sangakkara's charismatic, erudite presence also exuded a statesman-like quality in short supply among his contemporaries. These days, cricketers, especially the most competitive of them, often come across as a boorish, testy lot thriving in the socially-isolated bubble created by team managements and coaches. A recent India captain, at one stage, proudly proclaimed that he did not read newspapers or watch TV , presumably to avoid heartache if he stumbled into cricketing discussions.

The Australians, who are expected to flaunt a workmanlike manner, can be downright crass and loutish when it comes to the crunch on the field. Like politicians who think only of the next election, modern cricketers are taught to focus only on the next game, the next win. Witness Bangladesh's recent resurgence, which has also unleashed a distinctly edgy, vocally combative, often abusive aspect to the team.

It is here that Sangakkara was different. He was adroit at maintaining his perspective in the high-pressure cauldron of international cricket. The qualities which made him an ever-improving, ever-evolving batting artisan who compiled runs and milestones at an exponential rate, also contributed to making him many other things -as astute sledger who never resorted to invectives, a clever leader who knew how to maximize team input, a batsman supremely skilled at adapting to changing times and conditions.

Above all, perspicacity enabled him to become an admired Sri Lankan social unifier, a national icon who didn't shy away from addressing the difficult, relevant issue of ethnic strife. Sangakkara is, then, the ideal ambassador we want all legendary cricketers to be, and there can be no doubting his `legend' status or wondrous batting abilities -there will be reams written about his exact place in the hall of fame as he plays his last Test.

While not as sublime as Mahela Jayawardene or as fluid as Aravinda, the left-hander was in many ways a late bloomer, an exacting taskmaster when it came to his own batting -who chiselled away at the imperfections un til he could achieve an acceptable level , of consistency . At an age when batsmen usually cut down on their strokes, he was adding innovative stuff like the ramp shot, complementing the fa mous bent-knee cover drive with slog sweeps, pulls and scoops.

He was also a marvellous advert for batsmen-wicketkeepers to cut down on their 'keeping -averaging 67.39 in 85 games after giving up the gloves in Tests. He has the highest home average of 61.08 among batsmen with at least 6,000 Test runs, but was no weakling away -in Australia he averaged 60.33 (who can forget the 192 in Hobart), 61 in New Zealand (80.5 when not 'keeping), 48.5 in India as a captain and non-wicketkeeper. He has the highest batting average ever at No. 3 for those with a minimum of 8,000 runs -61.20 to Ponting's 56.27.

He has the third-highest batting average of all time among captains who led in at least 15 Tests. He has one less double century than the maximum ever: Bradman's 12. The awe-inspiring numbers could fill a whole book. “Most of the things I do don't seem elegant, but I'm glad I made up with the amount of runs I've scored and how effective I've been,“ Sanga said recently, summing it up better than anyone can.

But that's in the past. As Sanga looks beyond life with bat in hand, it is also time to recognize his impact off the field as a leading cricketer.Remember, it was only Sanga among cricketers who spoke out against the ban on Lankan players in Chennai, saying, “Politics will never curtail the spirit of the game.“

During the Suraj Randiv no-ball incident which threatened to disrupt player relations between India and Lanka on the 2010 tour, Sangakkara said, “We have regretted it (the incident). We are trying to do the right thing. (But) we can't expect one side to keep holding out the hand while it has been sensationalized by other players.“

In the now-famous Cowdrey Lecture in 2011, it was Sanga who talked about his family sheltering Tamils during the race riots of '83, adding, “I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity .“

It is Sanga, along with Muralitharan, who has adopted Mankulam, one of the flashpoints of Lanka's war.

It was also, in the same lecture, that Sanga dwelt on cricket's current existential crisis, saying, “We have reached a critical juncture in the game's history... unless we better sustain Test cricket, embrace technology enthusiastically , protect the game's global governance from narrow self-interest, and more aggressively root out corruption, then cricket will face an uncertain future.“

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is caught at a crossroads when it comes to juggling scheduling issues, addressing shortening attention spans and managing business interests and multiple formats. As it charts the game's future, the ICC could do well to mine Sanga's immense nous when it comes to standing up for cricket's spirit and sanctity in changing times. He is already among the players' representatives in the ICC cricket committee, but it may be time for a bigger role.

The Lankan hero has said he will not immediately embrace politics.It is time for cricket's administration, then, to embrace Sanga's vision anew by giving him a new role.

Bowling to Sangakkara

The Times of India, Aug 20 2015

Anil Kumble

It was always a challenge to bowl to Sangakkara

The P Sara Oval is one of Sri Lanka's oldest venues and it's only fitting that Kumar Sangakkara's home club gets to host his final Test. Obviously there will be a lot of emotions attached and it will be a very special feeling for the man himself, as this is the ground he grew up on. To end such an illustrious career in front of one's home fans is not an opportunity every cricketer gets. Sanga is undoubtedly one of the greats of the game and the fact that he has achieved so much as a batsman after having started as a wicketkeeper-batsman makes his achievements even greater.It makes it all unique. It certainly is a tribute to his fitness, his ability and passion. Remember, he took off the wicketkeeping gloves only recently and until then, he always braved the Lankan sun and all the humidity involved to first stand up to the guiles of Murali and his fellow spinners and then turn up at number three to hold the SKORE Lankan batting together in the company of another recently retired great, Mahela Jayawardene.

I know as a bowler I have been troubled enough by Sanga's ability with the bat.It was always a challenge to bowl to him and he only got better with time, perhaps playing his best cricket in the last 2-3 years.

Sanga also has a states man-like personality and not just by the way he carries himself on the field but on the field of life as well, and I LOGO am sure with his worldly acu men people will be looking to him to give back to the game in a different role. I wish San ga and his family well.

Coming to the second Test, the Indian team's prepa ration hasn't been ideal.

Double centuries

Kumar Sangakkara closes in on Don Bradman double ton record

4 January 2015 BBC

Basin Reserve, Wellington: On 4 January 2015 Kumar Sangakkara, then 37, scored his 11th Test double century to move one behind Australia legend Don Bradman's all-time record. He made 203 on day two of the second Test against New Zealand to help his side to 356 all out.

The Leading double centurions in Test cricket are:

12 - D Bradman (Australia); 11 - K Sangakkara (Sri Lanka); 9 - B Lara (West Indies); 7 - W Hammond (England), M Jayawardene (Sri Lanka) 6 - M Atapattu (Sri Lanka), V Sehwag (India), J Miandad (Pakistan), R Ponting (Australia), S Tendulkar (India)

Wicket keeper

Sangakkara, who spent the first third of his Test career keeping wicket - claiming 178 catches and 20 stumpings before giving up the gloves - also became the fastest player to reach 12,000 Test runs on day one.

12,000 runs

Kumar Sangakkara: Contributions in test and international cricket; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India

BBC 3 January 2015: Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara became the fastest player to reach 12,000 runs in Test cricket - and only the fifth to reach the landmark.

The then 37-year-old achieved the feat in his 224th Test innings, during his side's second Test in New Zealand.

India's Sachin Tendulkar and Australia's Ricky Ponting both needed 247 innings to surpass the mark.

Sangakkara began his innings on 11,995 runs and was given a standing ovation when he became the first Sri Lankan to reach 12,000 by knocking Trent Boult square for two.

The highest scorers in test cricket

Tendulkar (15,921), Ponting (13,378), South African Jacques Kallis (13,289) and India's Rahul Dravid (13,288) are the only four players to have scored more Test runs than Sangakkara.

Farewell from cricket

The Times of India, Aug 25, 2015

Devadyuti Das

Tearful Sangakkara bids adieu to cricket

For the first time, walking into a cricket stadium in Sri Lanka felt like walking into a fortress. Security was tight, polite of course, because this was no ordinary Monday morning at the P. Sara Oval.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would be present to bid farewell to one of the country's greatest sportsman — Kumar Sangakkara. There was a special parting gift for the Lankan legend from President Sirisena, an offer of a new job — High Commissioner to UK!

The offer, though, went almost unnoticed so overcome was Sangakkara by emotions on his final day in the Sri Lankan whites. The 37-year-old, who has kept the likes of Wasim Akram, Glenn McGrath and Zaheer Khan at bay, couldn't fight off tears on Monday.

Father Kshema Sangakkara, who has been a massive influence in Kumar's development as a cricketer since his early days in Kandy, was as hand as the ace wicketkeeper-batsman bid adieu to the game. Also present were sister Thusari and Saranga, brother Vemindra, wife Yehali and kids Kavith and Swyree. The sight of his family there beside him on his last day as an international cricketer proved too much to handle and the emotional side of the run-machine was finally on view.

The normally eloquent Kumar, choked up not once but twice before he could complete this sentence: "I don't have to look beyond my parents (stopping the first time). I am sorry I don't want to embarrass you but you have been my inspiration. And my siblings (stopping the second time). Thank you amma and appachi. I felt safe at home. They say you can't choose your family, but I am thankful I was born your children and your sibling. I am sorry I don't always get emotional, but this is the rare time that my parents and my siblings are here."

He also praised the Indian team for their tough opposition during his farewell match. "Thank you for not giving any quarter," he told the Indian team.

Teammates new and old were there like Muttiah Muralitharan and Mahela Jayawardene, who attended all five days of the Test match. Memento after memento were handed over to Sangakkara including an Indian team jersey signed by all the team members.

When he finally walked in to speak to the media, there was a mad dash — not to speak but to get that one last treasured autograph, because there's always a fan in us too.

So what did he think of the President's generous offer? "I actually just heard it and it was quite a surprise. I have to go and think about it and really have a proper chat with His Excellency as well," he said.

Asked what was so memorable about the day, Sangakkara said, "Your last Test, you obviously remember for various reasons. Special thank you to Mr Gavaskar for those very very kind words. Also to everyone who came out and supported me — the fans, all of you, the teammates and my family. It is a very memorable Test."

There was the surprising slip-up though as he forget to mention his wife and children in the speech. "I imagined my parents and family. I forgot to mention by wife and children by name. To me when I say family, it's all of them. You know my children are six years old now but that's been the highlight of my partnership. She has been amazingly supportive and amazing tolerant. I'm quite a chaotic person. I'm only organised in my bating. Anything away from that, it's not easy for her to get me organised, to keep me on track and get my appointments done," he said, proving he's after all human.

After winding all of this down, Kumar left the Sara Oval for one final time, not in a team bus but heading home to begin his second innings.

Sangakkara prepared well for retirement

CricketCountry.com, August 25, 2015

Mahela Jaywardene: Kumar Sangakkara has prepared well for retirement

Former Sri Lanka captain and long time friend of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene felt that the wicketkeeper-batsman has prepared himself for retirement. In his column for Times of India, “It’s been a pretty emotion all, and sad, day for Sri Lankan fans. Kumar has been an icon for cricket in our country for so many years and an ambassador of the game on and off the field. That is what the people came out to pay tribute to on Monday. It is a big loss for the team despite the fact that it was inevitable that he would leave the game one day. But I think they have prepared themselves, and I see this as a great opportunity for some of the young players to come through and establish themselves.

“Kumar has prepared quite well for life after retirement. I think he will miss that dressing room more than anything else, but at the same time he is going to be quite busy with all the other things which are going to come his way, and he will still have a role to play in the game in whichever way he chooses to. And he will get to spend more time with the family ­ that’s very important to him. It’s been a fantastic trip for both of us going through international cricket for almost 16 years, and having that friendship, one that we continue to have. I don’t have any big message for him; safe to say that it was an incredible journey, and now it’s time for him to enjoy life in a different way. I wish him all the very best.”

Speaking about second Test, Jayawardene wrote, “Coming to the match, having lost the toss — which was probably crucial — and bowling first, I thought we had a great start. Then we dropped a couple of chances which led to the Indians garnering a big score. I firmly believe that we lost the game in our first innings. The wicket was in a better condition then and if we had showed a bit more intent, like Angelo did, we would likely have got close to the Indian total. The Indians then pretty much batted us out of the game in their second. It was just saddening to see how our boys batted on Monday; I didn’t think they showed much fight but [Ravichandran] Ashwin and [Amit] Mishra bowled really well.”

“Our guys need to be more consistent and we need to look into better starts upfront. Angelo will feel a bit under pressure being the premier batsmen now going forward, but I think he will relish the challenge,” concluded Jayawardene.

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