Kumar Sangakkara

'My decision may have been selfish but it was right'

Kumar Sangakkara explains why he stepped down from the captaincy and looks back at his two years in charge

Interview by Sriram Veera

April 12, 2011

Comments: 65 | Text size: A | A

Kumar Sangakkara watches his team-mates train, Colombo, March 24, 2011
"I am not resigning because I am unhappy. I am not resigning because I can't do this anymore" © Associated Press

Your coach, Trevor Bayliss, said: "They [Sanga and Mahela] probably had enough of putting up with distractions. These days a captain has to deal with issues that sometimes have got nothing to do with cricket."
In modern-day cricket you get it. In the subcontinent you get a bit more. As a team we have tried to keep ourselves away from everything but cricket. Sometimes you can't. Unfortunately it can affect relations between players and administrators. It happens rarely, but certain vested interests try.

The reality of Sri Lankan cricket is this: everyone loves cricket, from administrators to normal people. They are always going to try to do [what they think is] the right thing in their way. Everyone might not agree on what the right thing is. And when you have such diverse opinions, you butt heads. It sometimes tires you out, stresses you out.

But to me there is nothing more fun than playing the game. In Sri Lanka we have established our own brand of cricket, like India have, Pakistan have. We established it in 1996. We are very proud of that. What Arjuna Ranatunga and his side gave us in 1996 is what we are trying to protect. We have been trying to take it forward, build on it, work on it and constantly improve.

What are the issues of outside involvement - are they to do with selection?
The issues vary. It can go from logistics to anything. I still maintain they are trying to do good for cricket. Among themselves, they might differ. Their heart is in the right place. Administration is not an easy place to work.

What's the ideal system? What would you want?
I don't think there is an ideal system, but what I believe is that these things should never affect the team. You can have your administrative scuffles and whatnot, but players should not get involved with the administration, unless it's something that directly affects their performance. And administrators should not cross the line either. That way mutual respect will be there. It can go wrong. It has gone wrong at times.

How much did these distractions have to do with your resignation?
I am not resigning because I am unhappy. I am not resigning because I can't do this anymore. No, I can do this for longer, but I don't think it's the right thing for me or for the team. Another World Cup is coming up in four years. We think four years is a long time but suddenly you will realise two years are already gone and the system hasn't changed. A new guy is appointed with hardly any time to lead the team.

If I was younger, if I was 30, maybe it would be realistic to stay on for a while. It would have been realistic for Mahela [Jayawardene] to carry on. He easily could have captained in this World Cup but he too, for his own reasons decided it was best for him and the team to step down. It's the same thing with me. The guy who takes over will find that he has a great team. If he can stamp his own authority on it, leave his own mark, going forward he will have a fantastic team.

Wouldn't it perhaps have been better if you had stayed on for about a year more? At the moment Dilshan is ruled out as a candidate by your logic, because he is older than you. Bayliss has said that Angelo Mathews could probably use the additional experience. And three years is still a lot of time. Does it look like you have left the team in a lurch, or at least in some uncertainty?
The thing is, you have to leave when your mind is clear. If I captain for another year and do well, would I want to go then? Or will I say, "No, no, I am doing well, let me stay", and that might not be good for the team. In that sense, it's the right time to go.

The first year might be slightly confusing but you take the plunge. Out of that confusion something better will come. You try out a few things, find your feet and then you have three more years. Graeme Smith was put in at 21 or 22. He didn't have a good first year but then he developed into a good captain.

If I keep hanging on to the post, would I feel comfortable leaving it in a year, or will I say, "Let me do it one more year", thinking this guy is not ready, that one is not ready. Maybe I'm just protecting my place in the side. You never know. No matter how strong you are in mind thinking that you will take the right decision at the right time, I think it's best to take it slightly earlier. It frees you from going down the wrong line.

Some might say it was a bit of a selfish decision. How do you respond to that criticism?
It's fair enough. Because no matter how much I try to deny it, there is a lot of "me" in that decision. I have also done what is best for me. But having said that, a large part of the decision [has to do with] what I think is the way forward for the team. The way forward is not as difficult as people make it out to be. Players come, players go, and so do captains. Yet teams progress. That is natural. Yes, in this decision there is some selfishness but I also think it's the right decision to make. I would rather be in a position where I am not tempted to do another year, to take the decision I should. I am pretty clear in my conscience.

"To me preparation is the key. There is no way even one out of 15 in the squad can take a short cut. There is no way. You can't do it on the field and you can't do it off the field"

So no sleepless nights?
No, not at all. I took the decision three months before the World Cup.

Going back, how tough was it to drop Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas?
It was a very delicate situation because Sanath and Vaasy are legends. Was it the right time to move on? Should they have been in the squad? At the end of the day you need to be 100% sure you are making the right decision. Personal likes and dislikes have nothing to do with what's best for the team. We are a family, but you have arguments, problems - that's the way it should be, else nothing constructive is going to work.

It's very difficult, especially in Sri Lanka. You have to give those two credit for what they did. They are larger than life back home. When you phase out icons like them, people from outside, inside, from the administration, all have their own views and they communicate them. Then winning on the field becomes even more important. It inspired the team. That kind of attitude we had to have in our side - and that has been actually happening right through our Sri Lankan cricket, from Ranatunga onwards…

There was talk at one point that Vaas wanted to play but you didn't want him. How did you react to that?
Nothing like that. Vassy himself understands the way I work. I get along well with him, even now. People don't see our interactions. When he wanted to play his last Test match, he came and spoke to me. When he was playing in England, I texted him saying we were watching him and how proud we were. The public don't see all that.

The first thing we established when we got down to selection for World Cup was that it was not about the past, not about the future, but it's about the moment, now. Every single name came up for discussion. Sanath and Vaasy missed selection by a whisker. Their strengths, their abilities, how their presence in the side can lift the team, their experience in playing at this stage - all these things were discussed. We found ourselves on the same page. Everyone realised this is the team. Then we realised, oh, Vassy and Sanath are left out.

It was unbiased: We based it on performances and the team combinations we were going to play. It's about performance. It's not about age. If someone is performing and contributing to the value of the dressing room, nothing else matters. It was a never a case of, oh he is old.

A minister calls and says Sanath has to play. How do you react to that?
Sometimes things get blown out of proportion. I don't think anyone called and said, "You've got to play him." Sanath would never want that to happen.

I don't think ministers would call like that. There might be a question, a comment - why is this player not there? The final 15 is always approved by the sports minister and he has the right to ask the selectors why so and so is missing. That way he gets an understanding of how the selection procedure works.

The only thing we haven't done consistently is to have a press conference immediately after selection, like two minutes after we write down the side, meet the media and explain our decisions. Then it becomes really nice. It stops the confusion and is better than having a statement being put out a day later and calling the press conference. It's of no use. Those are things we tried to get down with the selectors.

It's a system that we were not used to until Aravinda came along. Aravinda will, if he is wrong, concede the point to a journalist or whoever. He got a lot of respect when he spoke because of the fact of who he was. And the other selectors, too, were people who didn't need to be selectors. They came because they were respected, loved the game and played it at the highest level.

When did you get a sense of ownership over the captaincy, start to enjoy it?
It was probably the Australia tour. I was very lucky later to have the selectors I did - Aravinda, [Ranjit] Fernando, Azwer Ali, Amal Silva. Them coming in was fantastic. I had earlier enjoyed working wth Ashantha de Mel, but these four together as a panel, was the best thing happened to me. It was never a simple yes - it was always "Why?" Let's talk about it, put the arguments forward, analyse it. You say what you want to say, we say what we want to say; whoever is more logical and convincing, they win.

In Australia no one gave us a chance. I remember, we did a charity fashion show a week before and there were articles in the paper, saying, they look full of confidence on this ramp but they don't understand what Australia is about. They are going to get beaten. When we turned it around, as a team, we felt great. It did a lot for our confidence.

Ranatunga was a freedom fighter in some ways, making the players believe in themselves, pushing them to become men. Mahela was tactically brilliant and a calm individual, who made those men self-aware. And then you came along, trying to make them ruthless…
It was very simple. To me preparation is the key. There is no way even one out of 15 in the squad can take a short cut. There is no way. You can't do it on the field and you can't do it off the field. It was a case of pushing everyone. Making sure the coaching staff and the team understood why things were being done. I wanted the guys to ask questions. I wanted them to use every minute of practice.

Angelo Mathews and Tillakaratne Dilshan look on after a nets session on the eve of the World Cup final, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, April 1, 2011
"Both Dilshan and Angie are suitable [candidates for the captaincy]" © AFP

There was the rise of Dilshan and Lasith [Malinga], which was fantastic, and it was about putting that in perspective so that the team understood the new dynamics, and also that those players understood their increased responsibility to the side. That they had to commit more to the team and that's how they rise in the team and get support. You have all these grounded players, like Mahela… In Sri Lanka you don't encounter people with huge egos. Even Murali, such a great champion and legend, is humble and simple and made my job a lot easier.

And ruthlessness?
Mahela had started the culture change. He always emphasised that if we have an advantage, let's push it to the maximum. Finish things off. Ruthlessness came in more and more because guys were doing well. Dilshan, who was in the middle order, became an amazing opener; so he got out there and started thinking, "I am going to dominate the opposition and give the team the advantage." Lasith was trying to get a wicket with every ball he bowled. Those kinds of players were helpful to the team's attitude. That kind of confidence made the team believe in themselves more and more.

Are you the type who talks a lot in the dressing room?
It's not about talking. Our culture is different; it's about understanding which guy needed more time, backing and pushing him. And who are the guys who are allowed to do what they want - within reason of course. Those are the calls any captain has to make.

What have been the most satisfying moments of your captaincy?
The entirety of my captaincy.

The World Twenty20, we got to the finals. It was sad to lose. We did a lot of things we haven't done before, like beating Pakistan in Sri Lanka, beating Australia in Australia, getting to another World Cup final and doing well. Doing well in tournaments away from home.

We can say the Twenty20 and World Cup final were great, but beating Australia in Australia was magnificent for us. To just lose one game in the tour was a special achievement. I felt honoured to be leading that side.

Were there moments you felt you screwed up as a captain?
You feel that that every time you lose. Sometimes even when you win you feel that: maybe you could have done this or that better.

On the field you make the best calls you can. You have a discussion here and there and you make the call. If it pays off, it's great, if it doesn't, there you go, it wasn't the best call. You've got to accept it. You will always have ifs and buts, but as long as you take the decision and you have doubts afterwards, it's okay. If you have all the doubts beforehand, it's not going to work.

It's a quality that Mahela had and it was fantastic to watch him do that. Marvan Attpattu had it as well. Take the decision and then analyse it later. Sometimes you don't have the luxury of analysis beforehand. Sometimes even if you have it, it doesn't pay off. You are not alone; there is someone in the opposition. If they surmount the challenge, they win.

Ian Chappell once said, "I think if you've had six hours in the field as a captain and you are not mentally whacked at the end of that, then you have not done your job properly."
That's absolutely true. It's a draining job. Physically playing cricket is fun. You get tired, maybe cramps, but who cares? Mentally, over game after game, it's a big ask. I am very impressed by captains who do long-term jobs.

Who are your candidates for the captaincy?
Both Dilshan and Angie [Mathews] are suitable. If they think Angie is too young then Dilshan will do a good job because he has these little touches for success. Anything he does on the field, he has this little knack. I don't know whether he will be the long-term candidate with his age, but if he keeps himself fit he can easily play the next World Cup. Or they can take the plunge with Angelo.

That is where the selectors have to really make a call. If they make a call and if things don't go well in the first or second year, they will have to be strong [and tell themselves] that they made a good decision. They will have to put everything into making sure the captain has everything he needs to do a good job. If it doesn't go well even after that, maybe you can re-evaluate. If the team itself doesn't expect miracles but expects a steady, intelligent guy who does things in his own way and does good for the team, then this could work. To expect too much right away will be a real danger.

We have done very well as a team in the last few years. Next year is going to be important as the Test championship is there. You are fighting for pride. Twenty20, Champions Trophy and the next World Cup are the four-year goals. You have to look long-term.

Both are ready? Even Angelo?
Yeah, even Angelo is ready. The only way you will know is by doing the job. You have to play both formats. Angie's position in the Test side may not be as cemented as everyone would like it to be but I think he is the guy for that position. Definitely with his all-round ability he is the man for that position in the Test team.

If you want to go for Dilshan, give him the confidence for a long term. Don't give the captaincy to Dilshan and say, "You are just going to be captain for a year and half." It's not going to be good for him, for he is going to think, "My days are numbered anyway." And so it won't be good for the team.

"On the field you make the best calls you can. You will always have ifs and buts, but as long as you take the decision and you have doubts afterwards, it's okay. If you have all the doubts beforehand, it's not going to work"

Beyond captaincy, in the future, how does the batting look?
If we can get guys like Dinesh Chandimal to perform, it will be a great asset. I think he is going to be a very special player. We need to give him more exposure and time. For now, he has to gradually build up to be a consistent performer.

Angie can kick on to become even better than he is now. Then you have me and Mahela to support that. There was quite a strong thought that Chandimal should be in the World Cup. The only problem was, we didn't have a place in the line-up to fit him in. If he had to bat, he had to bat in the top three or four.

Not at six or seven, where Kapugedera and Silva played?
No, that would be doing Chandimal a disservice. If he comes in there and doesn't do well - it's not a easy place to bat - it might scar him. People might say he is not as good as we thought he would be. It's better to give him a position is best in and see how he does there.

That lower-middle order spot in ODIs has been a worry, hasn't it? Kapugedera and [Thilina] Kandamby didn't grab it despite many chances, and Silva is probably on his way out...
In the next few years maybe it would be better for us seniors to bat down in pressure situations and push the youngsters up. So that the players in front know that the seniors are down there. You have the more experienced guys coming down to give even confidence to the young men at the top.

With Malinga not playing Tests and Murali having retired, is the bowling a worry?
It's time now for us to consider the other fast bowlers we have: Shaminda Eranga, Nuwan Pradeep, a couple of left-armers, another offspinner, Sachithra Senanayake, who can play ODI cricket at any time - brilliant fielder and smart bowler. [Suraj] Randiv, [Rangana] Herath and [Ajantha] Mendis will be stalwarts for Tests.

Guys like Dilhara Fernando still have a lot to offer us. Dilhara has dealt with a huge amount of pressure in the last few years. He is a bowler, to me, along with Lasith and Kulasekara, who is not afraid to bowl in any situation. He is the guy who comes up to the captain and asks for the ball. Guys with that much pride and passion, you need them in the side. You need to improve them because they still can be improved.

Thisara Perera can be a good bowler in conditions that swing and seam. Farveez Maharoof, if he keeps performing the way he has done in the last six months and keeps taking more responsibilities - he is now opening for his club - it will be great. If you can have allrounders at six and seven, it will be fantastic for one-day cricket.

Even for Tests. We have Angelo, of course. We have Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan [Pradeep]… these guys bowl 145 easily. A couple of left-armers - some old ones like Chamara Welegedara, and some new ones. Fast bowling is not going to be a problem. We have the resources. We have to streamline them so that they know how to win matches.

Did you speak to Mahela before taking the decision to quit?
As always, he was very sound. He echoed exactly my sentiments. He said it was the right decision because as a player it's hard for anyone to challenge you from the outside, apart from [on the basis of] your performances. But as captain, your decisions made on the field, to do with selection process, on anything… questions will keep coming, especially if someone is not happy that you are the captain. That can be detrimental to the team. If the captain in his own mind is not clear, the team will suffer. That was exactly what Mahela said, and it was nice to have him say that.

So that's the reason he quit the captaincy?
Ha! That's for Mahela to answer. I still think he shouldn't have resigned, but he felt it would be better to play as a player. In my mind, there was no replacement for him as a captain going into this World Cup. He was leading us brilliantly and he was the guy who should have been leading us after that as well.

Was there anyone in your inner circle who opposed your decision?
My wife said, "I know why you are making it but I don't know whether it's the right decision." She said something similar to what you said earlier, that maybe I was doing it for selfish reasons. I had to sit down and think hard. Once I finally took the decision, she came and said it was the right one. That felt good. Even my friends who initially opposed it realised that it was right. My father took a couple of minutes and said, "You are taking the right decision." I always talk to him.

So yes, selfish I definitely agree with, it but it isn't the entire foundation of the decision. Hopefully in later years the major part of the decision will be viewed as unselfish.

How do you rate yourself as captain?
Only records will say that and how the players responded to me. Only two things stand. No. 1 is your win-loss record and No. 2, probably more important, but something people hardly get to see: how the players responded to the captaincy. Those are two defining moments of captaincy. Someone might not like you but if you get them to respond well, that is the key.

I have had a great support and it's now time for me to give back as much as I can for as long as they want me. Mahela has done it, Marvan, Vaasy, Sanath, all have done it. It's my turn to join them and stay solid in the dressing room and be of help.

I've enjoyed my stint. Two years was good. I never expected to get [the job] as I had great faith in Mahela as a captain. I never wanted to do it for a long time. It was nice to make that decision at the end of the World Cup because I missed being a player, and I would like to go back to that. I think it will be fun.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by rakesh4288 on (April 15, 2011, 22:55 GMT)

Sanga decesion was/is/will be right

Posted by JayMartin on (April 15, 2011, 5:29 GMT)

Yes Sanga is one of the gentlemans in the game, i am a very good fan of him from time he comes to the team. Actualy his decision is the correct one when you considering his age, that's what Sanga says, If it was the reason how can he suggest Dilshan?? and he is not a candidate for the captain. If Sanga can hold for another one or two years as captain and Mathews as his deputy untill he get some exposure to the new post then i think the best way to do that.

Meantime as mention about the team selections to the world cup Sanga say that not looking at peoples age but only the performance, then how come Vass, and Randive not getting a place and Kapugedara got his place?? both the bowlers are did well in internationaly and domestic, but Kapu hasn't done anything to the team during his longer stay we would have taken Chandimal. There are players like Tharanga Paranavithana, Dimuth Karunarathna, Kushal Janith Silva which we can test them to the side.

Posted by the_blue_android on (April 14, 2011, 14:43 GMT)

Sorry - Hard to take Sri Lankan cricket seriously till then win ONE test match overseas which is not in the sub continent.

Posted by   on (April 13, 2011, 23:52 GMT)

I am surprised but not disappointed. I don't know whom he is trying to fool. Why did he take the position if it was for a such short period? Dilshan is older than him and will be 38 come the next WC. Angelo is only 23+ and just settling in the side. He is also injury prone. The resignation of Sanga, Mahela and the selection committee suggests that there is something more to it than meets the eye. Rumour and conspiracy theories are strife. Why? I am hoping that an investigative journalist will come up with the background and facts. The team selection for the final boggles the mind. Sri Lanka's performance in the 2nd half of the final was lethargic and uncharacteristic, to say the the least.

Posted by   on (April 13, 2011, 18:48 GMT)

I always like Sanga he is such a class act...

Posted by   on (April 13, 2011, 14:41 GMT)

Wow, out of everything I've thought, his thoughts make sense more than any others. I would have done the same thing, now that I think about it. I respect your decision sanga!

Posted by   on (April 13, 2011, 12:25 GMT)

Dilshan shuld be next captain

Posted by AnasNZ on (April 13, 2011, 9:35 GMT)

Where is the Thomian super bat Nizam Mazahir(Aravinda mentioned him as a top class U19 player) and Farveez Maharoof - perhaps they are thambiyahs so discard - what a fate

Posted by hst84 on (April 13, 2011, 8:11 GMT)

i think there was some controversy prior to the World Cup final as the players performance esp in the 2nd part of the innings was below average comparing to the performances tht took place at the start and mid of the World Cup. They let themselves down like they couldnt handle the pressure. Sanga missing the runout, misfielding, dropped catch and strangely the 2.5m rule wasnt applied over samaraweera's dismissal which could have saved him. Strange facts but nevertheless its over now..

Posted by   on (April 13, 2011, 8:04 GMT)

took me a week to get over the W.C final loss, wonder how Sanga is felling,still disappointed i guess.

Posted by AnasNZ on (April 13, 2011, 7:05 GMT)

Well it's time for the new era players to take over the reigns. I suggest that some of the current school scene players should be included in the SL squad and groom them for the future. My SL team listing would be - Captain Angelo Mathews in all format of the game with a radical vice captain from the school scene Bhanuka Rajapaksa the make up of the team should be Dilshan, Ramit Rambukwella/Tissara Perera to open, one drop Angelo, Kumar, Mahela, Bhanuka, Upul Tharanga/Dinesh Chandimal, Chathura Peris(very important player for the future), Andri Berenger/Lahiru Thrimanne/Chamara Kapugathera, Randiv, Malinga, Mendis etc. Important to get the young guns exposed to international cricket very early.

Posted by   on (April 13, 2011, 5:17 GMT)

Selector wil dicide hoos da next captain, not Sanga.

Posted by   on (April 13, 2011, 4:27 GMT)

Good interview..!

The whole nation and world cricket fans respect you Sanga... ! Really players like Sanga and Mahela bring the pride to cricket in international arena... Proud to be a Sri Lankan....! Keep up your batting perfoamcnce up as a world classy batsman for next 4 years....!

Posted by   on (April 13, 2011, 3:46 GMT)

What a great player and gentleman Sanga is. All players and potential captains should take note. His humility, praising current players, respect shown to those who came before, support for the selectors and and showing faith in potential captains, is heartwarming and refreshing. Sanga could have easily stayed on as captain and would have had the support of all, but he put the team and country first. This is why I love Sri Lanka team. They all support each other and nary a bad word. They remind me so much of West Indies of several decades ago. They play for the love of the game and are so unselfish. They don't brag and fight among themselves. Players don't pout when not selected. Selectors don't panic and management don't fire coaches and selectors every time they lose. Top players don't have spats with coached if they are asked to make a few changes to improve. Good For Sanga and good for Sri Lanka. I hope Sanga stays around long enough to win a WC.

Posted by nafzak on (April 13, 2011, 2:46 GMT)

Sanga.. what a refreshing honest, sincere, thoughtful and unselfish gentlemen and player. He could have hold on to the captaincy without any opposition, but he put his country first and that is absolutely the right thing to do. He is an example for all captains. I have the world of respect for they way he plays the game and even more so now. I hope he sticks around long enough to win a world cup.

Posted by Nick_Indian on (April 13, 2011, 2:24 GMT)

Even though I am an Indian..I feel for Sri Lanka.. I love watching Sanga and Mahela..amazing players with amazing sense in cricket..I would say they are way better than Ponting like of cricketers...I wish both good luck and wish they play longer...

Posted by   on (April 13, 2011, 0:05 GMT)

this kind of players bring pride to the game.......undoubtedly sangakarra and jayawardane are one among the best players today...wish all the best for both the players.

Posted by pkgoz on (April 12, 2011, 22:27 GMT)

The interviewer did not ask Sanga a very important question - 'Beacause you knew you were going to give up captaincy after the World Cup, did that effect your performance and decision making in the final


Posted by Nutcutlet on (April 12, 2011, 21:25 GMT)

Kumar Sangakarra and Mahela Jayawardene: both, in my opinion, excellent captains and superb batsman who led by example and, above all, true gentlemen who have served international cricket well. As this article demonstrates, both are able to se the bigger picture and have a depth of self-knowledge that is quite remarkable in sportsmen across the world today. Sri-Lanka can be proud of them both!

Posted by harikeshan on (April 12, 2011, 19:37 GMT)

Kudos to Sanga, some may call it selfish, but you cant hold a man down against his will. Its better to go when the world asks WHY? rather than WHY NOT? Sanga and the boys you can walk with your heads held high knowing you gave the WC your best shot. Hopefully by the time 2015 comes around SL would have the team to go all the way.

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 19:17 GMT)

Brilliant insightful interview explaining understandable reasoning for his decesion to stand down, though most unfortunate and untimely for SL cricket. Well, he has done his share, and in the end, fans have to respect his well reasoned motivations. Wish Angelo had a stint as VC under Kumr. It is also a concern that Angelo has not yet cemented his position in the team. Being young without a track record behind him unlike Kumar & Mahela if Angelo were to have a lean period as all cricketers go through & challenged by the likes of Maharoof,, it will affect the captaincy. There is no choice now, but to hope for the best. Time to bring on Chandimal & Rajapakse along with the left arm pacemen. SL Should continue have a good team & who ever is the captain he will have strong support & guidance of two of the best cricketing brains in Kumar & Mahela.

Posted by shamic on (April 12, 2011, 19:14 GMT)

Sanga was a very good Captain and the most important thing is that he knew when to step down,you dont wait until the boards asks you to step down...people will respect him for what he has done and will expect him to perform with the bat and gloves for many more years with the freedom of enjoying the game with less stress,just as what Mehela is doing now.

Would really like to see some young blood thrown into the side now.......the first year and a half would be difficult but then onwards results will show.

All the very best to whom ever will take the place of Sanga.....we will stick together in good and Bad times for our cricket crazy country.

Posted by Veenize on (April 12, 2011, 17:40 GMT)

@ MerwinSterling : Yeah we giv him the benifit of the doubt, that's all we can do. The way Sanga answers his questions give us the feeling that he is well prepared even before the final. Who knows, nobody but only his conscience.

@ Shamil Perera : bro, you are spot on with that! "his conscience got da better of him quitting captaincy". I believe that!

Posted by Tanolihere on (April 12, 2011, 15:40 GMT)

Sanga one of the best captains ever...i guess he can do a good job training the new lankan captain and should stay in the team...sanath and vaas were no doubt great players and it was a brave decission not to play them in the world cup but it was the right decission for sri lankan team...after muralis retirement sri lankan team; i dont see any bowler filling in the gap left by him, and certainly sri lankan bowling will loose the threat of murali they have had against teams for so many years...well wish you all the best from pakistan, i hope you play here again soon!

Posted by aahd81 on (April 12, 2011, 14:50 GMT)

Sangakara and Mahela are two players that you have to respect when they speak. I've never seen players so sound in their logic and so down to earth as well. His interview was a great read, even though I am not a Sri Lanka fan. I wish there were players and leaders like him in Pakistan...but I doubt anyone would let them live here. *sigh*

Posted by NALINWIJ on (April 12, 2011, 14:30 GMT)

In my opinion SRI LANKA did not have good captain until Ranatunga returned in his second stint and inspired the side to win 1996 world cup. Mahela and Sanga turned out to be great captains. The "'distractions"" from outside is appearing to undermine the morale of a team in an upward trajectory. Sri Lanka should build from this position than self destruct like Pakistan with their crises. If it ain"t broke don""t fix it motto should apply. Mahela and Sanga should have been encouraged to have split the captaincy with Sanga in tests and Mahela in ODI and Dilshan in T20 with ANGELO as vice captain in T20 AND GRADUALLY EASED into other positions in leadership over the next 4 years.

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 14:26 GMT)

Sangakkara is one of the best cricketers Sri Lanka has ever produced.Not only is he a brilliant player but also he knows when what decision has to be taken.Is it surprising that that a captain who made really intelligent bowling changes, field positionings, and played all the excellent shots he played(and will play for a long time to come) will have a fairly good feeling whether he should or shouldn't do something? He was and is an awesome player for Sri Lanka and if he says he will play as a player its his decision and probably it is the right decision. He shold be honoured not questioned whether it was a selfish decision because he did a mighty lot for Sri Lankan cricket and really he should be allowed to take a selfish decision if he wishes so.The astuteness of Sanga's decision will be clear in time to come.Sit back and enjoy the many hundreds to come from Kumar Sangakkara in the future!!!

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 14:11 GMT)

@Veenize exactly. W.C final was lost between 10-15 overs when thisara and kula were bowling that's when the partnership was at it's infancy stage he could've introduced a spinner then and gotten a chance like da missed catch.in da 18th over.Sanga's body language wasn't good throughout the match.Next best chance of winning a world cup would be in another 12 years at least.(after Aus & Eng) Unforgivable Sanga I think his conscience got da better of him quitting captaincy.Can talk the talk but couldn't walk the walk.

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 13:48 GMT)

What an amazing act! In this day when holding on to power at all costs is par for the course Kumara Sangakkara hands in his resignation! What a man! We can all learn from Sangakkara. Greed shows poor character. Cricket is all about testing the character of a man and Sangakkara has grown in stature immensely. Whatever interference he received during the World Cup final, whatever "distractions" he had to deal with, he dealt with it and when he could not any longer he simply resigned. This is good for cricket in Sri Lanka, good for cricket in general, good for society.

Posted by Lord.emsworth on (April 12, 2011, 13:26 GMT)

Sanga was not a brilliant captain but a good, aggressive one. He knew the ropes and could stand his own, talk the talk,and even walk the walk. However, when he says that 'At the end of the day you need to be 100% sure you are making the right decision' one wonders what sort of 'right decision' it was to have Chamara Silva, Muralitharan, and Kapugedera in the team...and dont say the captain is not a selecter please, as a captain does indeed have a mighty big say. Silva was a slow boat to China, Murali carried severe injuries from the start of the WC and besides is not half the champion bowler he was. Kapugedera was given upteem number of chances but never turned up trumps. Both Vaas and Jayasuriya are still streets ahead of that trio.India kept faith in Tendulkar even when he was struggling and see the wonderful results now.

Posted by hiranchathu on (April 12, 2011, 13:25 GMT)

A true class act & a great replica of the gentleman's game!! that's all i can say!

Posted by KingOwl on (April 12, 2011, 13:11 GMT)

The bottom line is that an unwilling leader is not an effective leader. We have to move on and find a good replacement. I agree with Sanga that it will not be a huge challenge to find a replacement - after all, people like Mahela and Sanga are going to remain in the team and knowing that they are both men with integrity, we can be sure that they will do their best to help the new captain. Sanga was a very good captain. But about being ruthless - I doubt it. I don't think either Mahela or Sanga had that killer instinct. Arjuna had it but not these two.

Posted by MerwinSterling on (April 12, 2011, 12:59 GMT)

Veenize...I too felt something was wrong with Sanga in the finals...I thought he was tired..face down althroughout..hands on his knees..not making any bold..aggressive moves...(May be Malinga and Murali let him down)..The only thing he got it right was a perfect and graceful set of responses at the podium...I like him a lot...He has been a warrior/pacifier...but I have a feeling he prepared the podium responses the day before...still I give the benefit of doubt to hm...

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 12:54 GMT)

The classiest left-hander I have seen since one Brian Lara. Having one bad game as a captain, even if it is the world cup final, should never obscure just how good a player and captain he has been - a proper cricketer's cricketer.

Posted by RogerC on (April 12, 2011, 12:30 GMT)

There is something mysterious about the World Cup final. Sri Lanka's team selection was strange. New players outside the original team were brought in to playing XI, Mendis was rested, Murali played with injury... We may never know, unless someone involved writes the truth in their biography later.

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 12:23 GMT)

It's a good thing Sanga stepped down, his captaincy wasn't the best, we lost the earlier game to Pakistan and the final to India due to poor captaincy. Sanga who had a say in the selection should take some responsibility. It's one thing to say that Dilhara is an attacking bowler, if so why didn't you give him a go, may be even against the associates' so he would have had some match practice just in case of an injury.. He also speaks about Chandimal, why didn't you select him ahead of one of the Chamara's. These days all these guys play for the IPL' you have to question there loyalties, that's why I respect the Ponting's and Cark's there loyalties are with the national team, Sanga says he is resigning was selfish, then he also says he did it for the country, c'mon make up your mind, which one is it..

Posted by Veenize on (April 12, 2011, 11:50 GMT)

I still don't accept the way sanga lead the team in the world cup final, it was not sanga. When you look again in the highlights, when Sachin's wicket felt he was not joyed as it should usually be. He missed runouts, made lots of erroneous decisions. One can say it is because of the preasure, ya it might be. But I very much doubt whether there is some secret behind the defeat. Anyways thats in the history, cant reverse those. But this interview with Sanga made me think little positive about him, he gives good reasonable answers to his critics. Hope his decision will do good for SL cricket in the future!

Posted by rhythm163 on (April 12, 2011, 9:08 GMT)

Great sportsman with dedication . He spoke very well ....

Posted by mrwaka on (April 12, 2011, 8:52 GMT)

@rajiv reddy: ease up mate! the IPL has only been going for 5 days!!! his team can't be doing that badly.

Posted by bharath74 on (April 12, 2011, 8:34 GMT)

Gr8 captain!!! Resigning as a captain requires courage

Posted by Cric_Clan on (April 12, 2011, 8:27 GMT)

Sanga and Mahela are the only folks in cricketing history to envision giving captaincy to a person for a World Cup that is 4 years away..

Am sure neither India nor Munaf would have had the slightest clue that he would play in the World Cup, until his good spells in SA tour.

Captainging the National Team is the ambition of most players and not Captaining the Work Cup team.

Please up with some better reasons folks... For I believe Country and Team comes first, then comes individual decisions..

Posted by inshaflive on (April 12, 2011, 8:01 GMT)

I resoect his sportmanship...ive never seensuch a wondeful sportsman...this guy has enthusiasm,responsibility,and courage..Hats offf sanga!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 7:55 GMT)

Why does he gives these kind of interviews when he is away from International duty. This is not the right time, especially when his franchise DC is not going well in IPL.

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 7:43 GMT)

If someone says that Sanga did not do enough to groom a captain like Mahela did. Its wrong. He has not resigned from the captaincy in the test team. He could do it having the ODI captain as his deputy in the test side. That will be ideal. The new captain will have the opportortunity to under study TEST SIDE) as well as handle the side (ODI) when Sanga is playing under him. Within 12 to 18 months time, the captain can take over both. I hope every one will take this move of Sanga positively.. Thanks for your contribution as the Captain of Sri Lanka. Wish you all the best Sanga

Posted by COOLANKA on (April 12, 2011, 7:33 GMT)

sanga, your decision is absolutely right so don't worry, you are the best captain we ever had and you have done good job, last couple of years your support was 100% , sanga i still believe you are the best captain in the world. if you can prove it in IPL I'll be really appreciate...ALL THE BEST....

Posted by jehangiriqbal on (April 12, 2011, 7:16 GMT)

The greatest thing Sangakara has done for SriLanka is leaving captaincy at the right time. SriLanka will see the benefit of this act in 2015 world cup

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 7:09 GMT)

Hats off to you Sanga!... we are in debt, you did us proud as a Captain, cricketer and a Sri Lankan!

Posted by Kunal-Talgeri on (April 12, 2011, 6:44 GMT)

Lovely interview, but one thought of Sangakkara puzzled me: "The thing is, you have to leave when your mind is clear." I would have thought you have to lead when your mind is clear. :-) At one level, as a fan, I respect Kumar and Mahela building a body of Sri Lankan cricket. There is a touch of selflessness. Also, the schedules are attritional. But Sangakkara's best leadership was yet to come. From Clive Lloyd, Imran Khan and Arjuna Ranatunga to Allan Border, their best years as captains occurred in the second or third parts of their stints. Dhoni are exceptions in every sense. Given the sentiments of Mahela and Kumar, maybe their departure was too premature. Maybe, their departure is a tale of our time.

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 6:19 GMT)

i dunno why people rate snaga as a good captain,most of the time he's like lethargic on field and fails to make crucial changes when necessary.Thats why we lost the world cup, because of his laid back waiting for things to happen attitude.He might even ruin the party for decan this season.But have to say he's the best wicketkeeper batsman right now in world cricket, he's the second best Sri Lankan Batsman behind Aravinda but never the best captain.I really can't forgive him 4 da mistakes in that final..sad end

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 6:02 GMT)

It is too early to judge him entirely, you don't become a legend in 2 years at helm. Perhaps he was unfortunate that his job was made complicated by corrupted administrators. Someone has to take over the captaincy and become a strong leader in to next stage of cricket in SL!

Posted by Osayed on (April 12, 2011, 5:59 GMT)

I respect no one as much as I respect Sangakkara in modern day cricket...A person this capable and with such a pure heart is vital to the team and the game. With every post-match speech of his, with every interview, he has proved himself to be larger than the game :)...I admire his personality...he truly is a Champion!...

Posted by SriLankanCricketLover on (April 12, 2011, 5:58 GMT)

Sanga is a world class batsman without any doubt for sure. Probably he is the finest wickets keeper batsmen of all time and a great servant to Sri Lankan cricket. But as a captain, he did not have the caliber of class to win a world cup. And from my point of view he has kind of a monopoly in team as well. Mahela was far more better than Sanga when it comes to field settings, changing bowlers and attacking batsmen. My thoughts of we (Sri lanka) loosing the WC finals is mainly due to sanga's defensive captaincy.Else how can a team put 274 put on board and took 33/2 can loose a final?????? So this was a really good decision by this great player and will benefit SL cricket in the long run. May be sanga needs to polish up his wicket keeping abilities as well….

Posted by lovelife1234 on (April 12, 2011, 5:56 GMT)

Kumar Snagakara true gentleman and great wicketkeeper batsman. Best of luck KUMAR SIR in future.

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 5:40 GMT)

A true sportsman!!Talking about future plans ,it's nice to hear that seniors decided to bat down the order ATLAST!!Now we can solve 5th 6th position with likes of Sanga and Mahela,while 3rd and 4th with youngsters like Chandi,Lahiru and Rajapaksha.

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 5:37 GMT)

I totally admire your captaincy on the field and off the field.. It's a great lesson for all the leaders out there.. It's so fantastic to understand that u have positioned our nation with par with all major countries.. The true Sri Lankan's humbleness will spark to the world from your great attitude..

Posted by Munish.Kalia on (April 12, 2011, 5:36 GMT)

Great Interview Really appreciate Sanga's decisions was always good for team and country. To all this going around in International cricket, (Vettori, Smith....) every body is expecting to contribute the SACHIN way. Good for competitive cricket.

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 5:16 GMT)

Most consistent batsman of all formats of the game!! Most consistent talker in all formats of the discussion!! A true Legend!! A world class batsman!! An honest Leader!! Sanga, you're a Sri Lankan idol!! Please stay in the team and support the next captain to win the WC 2015!! You're probably the best player of the game for the last decade!! God bless you Sanga!!

Posted by strawberrymilkshake on (April 12, 2011, 4:50 GMT)

This is a really really insightful interview on Sangakara and what the man has inside his mind. I respect his decision completely, and as the title concludes - it may be selfish, but it is right! We can all say he should have stayed, but he didnt think he should. I like how he explains the mentality and why he was afraid of going ahead. He didnt want to be blaming himself if a year from now, he thinks he should continue because SriLanka is doing well. I think that itself is not selfishness. Clearly he has thought about this team, its stregnths, weaknesses and what is must be going ahead. He is a very strong headed guy and it shows. He even mentioned how his place is secure had he been captain. Yet he still resigned. I think that itself is sheer courage and love for his team. I am not a follower of SriLankan cricket, but I am sure that whoever will carry on, Sangakara will make sure he does a great job in it!

Posted by ashanthaa on (April 12, 2011, 4:48 GMT)

Sanga's selfishness is an act of true patriotism. Sri Lankans ought to be proud to share the motherland with such greats who puts the country before themselves. I can only hope the egotistic political leaders are humble enough to learn from this altruistic loyalty. Cheers Mr. Sangakkara!

Posted by sanath007 on (April 12, 2011, 4:24 GMT)

@ aniket SL was in a great position against australia on that muddy pitch and Sanga we respect your decision and you should play in 2015 wc specially in aus conditions where you are brilliant with the bat

Posted by chandau on (April 12, 2011, 4:22 GMT)

Among the Sri Lanka captains i have seen since we got TEST status Ranjan Madugalle Arjuna Ranathunga and MArvan Athapatthu rank among the greats. Sangakkara Jayawardena and Jayasuriya are OK captains. It is usual to look at results to say if a captain is OK Good or Great but sometimes the best have not shown the best results. As a team we are not that good still and will be worse off after Murali and Malinga. Unlike the 1996 team we had no batting and bowling depth this time around and most of we lacked that team spirit and kill or be killed attitude cultivated by Arjuna. It was evident in the way we batted bowled and fielded barring a few moments of brillianceat the end of our innings and the begining of the Indian innings. As a captain Sanga has done nohing special for SL or in IPL. Certainly he cant be among the aforementioned greats of test era and the ones before like Mike Tissera et al. As a cricketer infact an all rounder Sanga is among the best no doubt !!! cheers

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 4:22 GMT)

true gentleman...a legend!

Posted by   on (April 12, 2011, 4:19 GMT)

Have always been a huge Kumar Sangakkara fan and just love the way he speaks here. Its a very honest interview, something that has come across even in his performances and something that I have always admired about Kumar Sangakkara....

Posted by ARad on (April 12, 2011, 4:17 GMT)

You have a great spirit, Kumar, and I was amused by how you dodged answering the question about administrative interference at the beginning of the interview - it was almost as good as one of your cover drives. :-) I hope Sri Lankan team members will continue to have the same attitude as the new era dawns. Good luck and may more success come your way in the rest of your career!

Posted by samlord on (April 12, 2011, 4:08 GMT)

What a Gr8 sportsman.Now i understand the logic behind your decision.brilliant article. In other worlds sanga wants Angie to be named as captain..:)

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