Durham enlist Sangakkara on short-term contract
Kumar Sangakkara has confirmed he will represent Durham for two to three Division One matches of the County Championship in preparation for Sri Lanka's tour of England. He will likely miss Sri Lanka's two ODIs in Ireland, but will join the squad before their first ODI against England on May 22. He may also be available for one of the two 50-over warm-up matches against Essex and Kent.
Sangakkara had sought a short-term county contract in order to acclimatise to England's early summer conditions and the Duke ball, but had to wait on clearance from the national selectors before confirming the deal with Durham. Sri Lanka play their limited-overs leg of the tour first and switch to Test mode via a first-class match against Northamptonshire starting June 5.
Reigning county champions Durham are unlikely to have Sangakkara in their ranks when they face Somerset on April 20, but he might be available for their next game, against Yorkshire.
The tour represents an opportunity for Sri Lanka to win their first Test in England since 2006. Sangakkara will also be set on improving an Test average of 30.58 from nine Tests in England - a figure that pales in comparison to his career average of 58.07.
In February, Sangakkara said his decision to withhold his name from the IPL auction this year had been partly motivated by the desire to prepare for the England tour, as well as acknowledgement of a tight May schedule. During Sri Lanka's most recent tour of England in 2011, Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene had missed a warm-up match due to IPL commitments.
Sri Lanka play Tests at Lord's and Headingley, the first of which begins on June 12.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here