England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Lord's June 2, 2011

Pace and bounce hold no fear - Sangakkara


Kumar Sangakkara insists Sri Lanka have no fear of facing England's trio of tall quicks likely to confront them during the second Test at Lord's despite the humbling experience of their second innings in Cardiff when they were rolled for 82. Chris Tremlett blew the top order away - although not Sangakkara, who was classically removed by Graeme Swann - and some of the tourists appeared distinctly uncomfortable when the England bowlers found their rhythm.

And it won't get any easier for the visitors. It's a mark of the current depth of English cricket that while James Anderson's injury is significant, they have Steven Finn ready on the sidelines should the decision be made to bombard the Sri Lankans from on high this week. Finn has bowled quickly for Middlesex and the England Lions this season, but Sangakkara believes Sri Lanka's batsmen can cope.

"I think out of all the subcontinent sides we play bounce a lot better than most sides," he said. "Everyone around the world, no matter if it's Ricky Ponting, will struggle against bounce and good bowling. That's the bottom line. It's a case of making sure you are up to challenges, whether it's Finn, Tremlett or Broad. You know what you are going to get and you just have to be confident enough in your own ability to score runs no matter what. Whether it's bounce, swing or seam, at the end of the day if you are a quality player you'll find a way to combat it."

Ponting did indeed struggle against England's combination of bounce and swing during the Ashes and it was one of the key reasons for the one-sided Ashes series. While not carrying the same emotion as England's feats down under, skittling Sri Lanka for 82 was a remarkable show of belief and intensity at the end of a match dominated by wet weather and a flat pitch.

No one, even those taking part, has really been able to explain how or why the collapse happened but Sangakkara admits Sri Lanka didn't have the right game-plan when they went out to face those 51 overs, and subsequently lasted just 24.4 of them.

"It is a bit difficult because, mentally, you aren't sure which way to go, whether you have to have positive intent right from the start," he said while visiting the Terrance Higgins Trust in London in his role as a Think Wise ambassador to raise awareness of HIV, 30 years after it was first discovered. "One way to save the game is to bat out 50 overs and the other is to get far enough ahead of them, they don't have time to get it. You need to strike that balance and we couldn't do that either.

"It's not something you reflect upon, you just forget," he said. "We were completely below par and it was a terrible batting performance when we only had to bat 50 overs. It's not something we need to remind each other about but it's worth remembering once in a while to realise how tough this game really is."

A tough game, yes, but ultimately only a game. Sangakkara knows all about putting sport in perspective having been on the team bus in Lahore when it was attacked in 2008. He clearly understands how to look at the bigger picture, which is why he takes his Think Wise role so seriously.

"It's great to actually meet people who do hands-on work rather than just talking to a camera. It opens your eyes," he said. "I try to make sure I seriously commit to it with time, effort, with knowledge whichever way I can. If you go and meet people they can look you in the eye and instantly know whether you are really there or you are just fulfilling an obligation. I owe it not just to myself and my role, but also the people I meet."

Like many of the world's leading players, Sangakkara's success has given him a huge profile and he is genuine about wanting to use it to make a difference, both while he is still playing and also in the future. "It's not about doing it in front of 20 cameras, it's about doing it when there are no cameras about and there's no one to write about it," he said.

There have been significant advances in the understanding and treatment of HIV in the UK in the 30 years since it was discovered, but that isn't the case in Sri Lanka. "You see the difference when you come to a place like England, both in how it is talked about and the facilities and help on offer to those diagnosed," Sangakkara said. "The rate of diagnosing cases in Sri Lanka is much lower, the education isn't nearly as good and we need to do a lot more to change that."

On Friday, though, Sangakkara's attention will, for the short term, be back on England's bowlers. Sangakkara's personal contribution of 11 and 14 continued his poor record on British soil where he averages 27.76 in seven Tests compared to his overall career mark of 56.63. Although Sri Lanka posted a competitive 400 in the first innings at Cardiff with Prasanna Jayawardene hitting 112, their onus will be on Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and the captain Tillakaratne Dilshan to lay the foundations for a recovery.

"This time around I really should be delivering," he said. "In 2006 I had a couple of half-centuries and you always kick yourself when you miss a century here. Coming here to score runs is something I've looked forward to and hopefully I can do that in these next two Tests. The tag of being a senior player is not just because you are older but it's because you've been there and done it, and done it consistently well enough to deserve to be where you are. Every day you go out, there is motivation that drives you to build performances."

Sangakkara's drive is clear in everything he does. Not just with bat in hand.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sri on June 3, 2011, 16:30 GMT

    @hawkeye30 He doesn't have to mention india any where. But why does he talk like this always?This is why he is not likeable. Instead of saying"we play bounce better than other subcontinent teams". He could have said "I play bounce better than other subcontinent teams." SL has only two quality batsman and it will be interesting to see how samaraweera performs. He dint get too many chances in overseas but looked solid .lets c how he plays his game here. As a fan of test cricket i would like to see an even contest here. 1-1 result and 5th day decider for last match.May the best team Win and that statement about srilanka being 3 times runner up thats incorrect right(again nobody is questioning SL's achievement but a factual error)and for @ yorkslanka you are one of those guys suffering from ' small country achieved big" syndrome.

  • A on June 3, 2011, 16:19 GMT

    Sangakarra@ "I think out of all the subcontinent sides we play bounce a lot better than most sides," What a JOKE...Sanga your average out of sub-continent below 27, so you should bat & talk less .. Sri Lanka can't even win one test match in Australia, SA & India and this guy talks abt how good they are playing bounce.

  • Nilantha on June 3, 2011, 12:44 GMT

    @radharkhrishna rao- your comments are funny or you must be looking at a different future tours programme to the rest of us. The facts are that it is very rare that we get more than one test in eng/aus/sa but we can't change that. It's all very well "predicting" how well India will do here in england but wait and see! Wow some of. you Indian fans are so jealous of a little country like SL?

  • Bryn on June 3, 2011, 12:17 GMT

    im a huge sangakarra fan he is right it doesnt matter what bowling you face if you dont have the self-efficacy to deal with it and do your job which is scoring runs, then you shouldnt be playing cricket. goes for any profession. anyway englands bowling isnt that good, its one dimentional and lacks substance. and englands depth? excuse me? what depth? finn coming in is only good for sri lanka, he is a run machine, wouldnt get a game for the fremantle second XI.

  • Dummy4 on June 3, 2011, 9:11 GMT

    its a lame excuse that sri lanka don't get enough opportunity to play in the bouncy tracks..i have seen them travelling to australia more than india, once in every two years..and india used to travel after 7 years, now it is after four years..and also, to england also..etc..and they are frequest visitors to india actually..still no victory in test matches and lamenting over UDRS..last year,without UDRS we drew the seires there..and in that match, dilshan was given not out in the 2nd innings of fourth test...same was with sangakara..yet we won the test match..so have quality first and then do the talk..and indian batsman may not be good puller of shot pitch,yet handles it effectively and are very good in play cut shots..especially the upper cuts..

  • Shehan on June 3, 2011, 8:14 GMT

    @chiragbhutt: oops sanga's mistake for not naming india as the best team in the sub continent to cope up with the bounce I guess... funny!!!

  • Shehan on June 3, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    @ Kp_india: There is no question about SLs achievements in cricket. Thats not even up for argument. So lets not go there as SL is a one time WC winner and 3 time runner up. Untill this WC india had only one WC win for all these yrs. So I suggest you get dwn from your high horse. Cricket is a game.. you win some and you loose some. Earlier my point was SL without having much exposure playing in such tracks have done very well for them selves in the past. With or without proper funding SL has made a huge impact in cricket whether you accept it or not. Pity that you cant find bowlers who bowls 145+ in such a huge population.

  • Kuldeep on June 3, 2011, 7:49 GMT

    His comments ""I think out of all the subcontinent sides we play bounce a lot better than most sides" is a disrespect to guys like Tendulkar, Dravid, Shewag and Laxman, the magnificent 4. None of the Sri Lankan batsman can stand up to them.

  • mathew on June 3, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    @mysay, looks like sour grapes

  • Yohan on June 3, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    @kp_india, yes, Sri Lanka lacks a super lucky guy like Dhoni....! if SL get someone like that, Sri Lanka would be unbeatable anywhere and be no1 in all formats of the game for atleast ten years too....... :).

  • No featured comments at the moment.