Australia v Sri Lanka 2010-11 October 20, 2010

Captaincy criticism par for the course - Sangakkara

Criticism from outside the camp doesn't ruffle Kumar Sangakkara. He's used to it. But in Australia it usually takes something seriously wrong for an ex-player to break the code of support for the country's captain.

During Australia's series loss in India Shane Warne targeted Ricky Ponting's fields and Geoff Lawson has called for him to become a specialist batsman. Ponting has been unhappy with some of the coverage and it adds to the intrigue for the limited-overs contest against Sri Lanka, which acts as Australia's last international item before the Ashes.

Sangakkara has been captain of Sri Lanka for more than a year and has developed a relaxed attitude to criticism. "We come from a slightly different cricket-playing scene [than in Australia] where we get to see that almost every day," he said before laughing loudly. "If it does happen it's not the end of the world. It's an opinion expressed and if you're playing at this level you are able to handle it with equanimity."

Warne tweeted about Ponting's fields to Nathan Hauritz and the issue continues to rumble, with the former legspinner writing about it on his website on Tuesday. Sangakkara was not surprised by Warne's comments, but did not think it suggested the Australians were starting to crack.

"Warne has very strong opinions on most things," he said. "He is also a very shrewd and intelligent cricketer, I'm sure he expressed an opinion he thought was relevant. Everyone looks at everything differently, that's what you realise very soon playing cricket. That's the beauty of cricket, it's all put down to interpretation."

One of the reasons for the burst of local complaints is Australia's drop to No.5 in the Test rankings, their worst since the system was introduced. They are still comfortably on top in one-day internationals, 16 points above South Africa, but appear more vulnerable given the slip in five-day status.

Sangakkara doesn't pretend to understand how the ranking system works but is certain the hosts won't be a pushover. "Playing the Aussies in Australia is a completely different story," he said. "How they will look at it in between an Ashes series is something left for them. For us, it's a great challenge to play Australia anytime."

The Sri Lankans open their tour with a one-dayer against Queensland at the Gabba on Friday and have two more warm-ups before the Twenty20 international in Perth on October 31. Three ODIs follow as the teams start to focus seriously on next year's World Cup.

"We're trying a few new guys, but we're settled to a great extent," Sangakkara said. "There are still a few places up for grabs and we need to have guys ready and able to take up that spot. We have a lot of younger players who have come in, and a lot of experienced players who do not feature in our squad. It's an interesting time for us."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

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