Sri Lanka tour of England 2014 June 9, 2014

Sangakkara likens Pietersen to Malinga

ESPNcricinfo staff

Kumar Sangakkara likened the England team's differences with Kevin Pietersen to Lasith Malinga's presence in the Sri Lanka team, as he contemplated playing an England side without Pietersen in the Tests. Sangakkara has been a vocal advocate for an inclusive Sri Lanka dressing room throughout his career, and said England posed a less stern challenge without Pietersen in the middle order.

"I don't know the reasons for KP's exclusion but the fact remains that he's an amazing player," Sangakkara told Wisden Extra. "For us, it's been like that with Lasith Malinga. He is very different in the way he looks, and as a person. Not everyone gets on well with each other in a team. There are certain people you might not have dinner with, but that doesn't take away from the fact they will be valuable players in a national cause, going out trying to win matches."

Malinga has been among Sri Lanka's strike weapons in limited-overs cricket, and has crafted a reputation for being the most consistent death bowler in the world. Those virtues earned him the Player-of-the-Series award in the recent ODI series.

"Without going into details, we've had our own issues and difficulties over the years inside the dressing-room and outside it," Sangakkara said. "We've dealt with that very well as a side, and having 11 similar players is definitely not a positive thing. Having different players, different attitudes, different individuals and bringing that difference into the mix but being able to commit 100% to a team cause - that's the beauty of cricket."

Pietersen had had an impressive record against Sri Lanka, averaging 51.41 across 11 Tests. His most recent Test against Sri Lanka had produced one of his most memorable innings, when he struck 151 off 165 in Colombo, to change the game's course and set England on track for a series-leveling win.

"I've watched him, admired him and he is undoubtedly an out-and-out match-winner. Of course, as an opposition player I'm not disappointed he's not around. We know what damage he could have done to us, and the damage he has done to us before. To not have him walk in - that presence he has - is a bit of a relief."

Sangakkara also said he would consider returning to county cricket once he had wound down his international career. Sangakkara prepared for the ongoing tour with two County Championship matches for Durham last month. The upcoming Tests at Lord's and Headingley are likely to be his last in England.

"A couple of seasons in England would be fantastic. I really enjoyed my time in 2007 with Warwickshire, and Durham have been great. I like the feel of county dressing-rooms. There is a huge amount of ability in them, and a huge amount of hunger. Durham have been exceptional in that sense. It's something I would like to experience again once I've finished with Sri Lanka."

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  • Alex on June 11, 2014, 18:19 GMT

    Sangakarra spoke truth. What he is really saying though , england captain is not good. You need to be strong enough have different people working for same goal. You have to be inclusive of different talent to flourish. What we have in england is bunch of "YES" man. Everything point towards weak captaincy and leadership by england captain.

  • ranganathan on June 11, 2014, 14:35 GMT

    Yet another article on the never ending controversy on KP's exclusion and handsome praise by another great cricketer on KP's class. England should lose this series to get rubbed for the poor decision and retaining a poor captain by crucifying KP for the debacle in Australia.instead of the captain and the coach.

  • Android on June 11, 2014, 2:32 GMT

    ha ha Sanga.... you are such a clever guy... slowly building the pressure around the English camp. you are truly a master.

  • sunil on June 11, 2014, 1:19 GMT

    Nice to see Sanga indulging in some mind games ahead of the real game!

  • Rusty on June 11, 2014, 0:35 GMT

    Typical rhetoric from Sanga.........I suppose England will also be happy to note that they will not see Malinga in the Test matches...........

  • sudaththa on June 10, 2014, 15:42 GMT

    Acturly, Sanga is not playing mind games...He is genuinely talking...But England does.. They do lot to disappoint Srilankans..

  • Dimuthu on June 10, 2014, 13:28 GMT

    Sanga playing mind games before the series :) not a bad idea, as long as he's not wasting too much time talking about the opposition instead of working on his own game. Hopefully he and Mahela can take SL to a famous series victory for the first time in England (you can't really call the One Off Test of 1998 a 'series') and leave no doubt that they are truly world class players capable of scoring big runs around the world. Sticking to the topic, I think England have been horrible at man management, but maybe KP was truly a destructive force in the England camp. Personally, I would have loved to have seen him play another 5 years, but not if he destroys the impressionable young minds in the dressing room with bad influence.

  • Philip on June 10, 2014, 11:34 GMT

    Great words by Sanga. The super players do recognise each other. Dirty linen washed in public, is the undisclosed words here.

    Would be nice to see Sanga, playing county cricket that would give those of us in England more opportunities to see him and of course with KP playing for Surrey. Now that would be a treat to see them in opposing sides. Philip Gnana, Surrey.

  • Rajesh on June 10, 2014, 6:09 GMT

    Well truly nice words about KP from Sanga... I think this is the most polite off-field doosra, that an opposition can hurl towards England dressing room.. the pressure on Cook/Moore's boys increases a bit more by this doosra and they have to score some runs to avoid this KP sacking after-effects... this series gets more interesting day by day by such off-field performances.. haha..

  • Janaka on June 10, 2014, 6:06 GMT

    Sanga has said the truth, but this is not the right time to say so. Do not talk about opposition players unless it is mandatory. Please!

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