Sri Lanka news April 5, 2011

Sangakkara doesn't foresee leadership vacuum

ESPNcricinfo staff

Kumar Sangakkara has sought to allay fears that there will be a vacuum left in the leadership of the Sri Lankan team after his resignation from captaincy by saying that there was no dearth of men who could take up the role. "I think we have Tillakaratne Dilshan and Angelo Mathews. We have Lasith Malinga and Upul Tharanga for the shorter versions," Sangakkara said. "We have enough candidates to pick from."

Given that the coach's position is also currently vacant, Sangakkara said that this was the right time for a change of captain. "I think the job now is to select a long-term candidate who is able to leave his own mark on Sri Lankan cricket and build the team he wants to build. Also we will be appointing a new coach so it will be nice if everyone starts afresh.

"I think as a cricket playing country this is the time that we have to plan for the future and the future starts now. Not in another six months' time, not in another year, especially if you are building towards the World Twenty20 and the 2015 World Cup. When a World Cup ends, it's time for a change in leadership."

Sangakkara, along with Mahela Jayawardene, has been the face of Sri Lankan cricket over the past few years, and he seamlessly took over the captaincy from Jayawardene in 2009. Sangakkara felt that the mantle of Sri Lankan cricket now rightfully belonged to the younger generation and that is where the new leader would have to come from. "If you really look at our side, me and Mahela, we are, maybe, a few remnants of a past era. New blood has come in and a lot of younger players have stood up and have been counted. So I think now it's their time, it's there future and they need to make sure that they carry this team forward.

"If I had stayed in the job for another year, maybe a year-and-a-half, the new thinking, the freshness wouldn't have been there. That's why I think it's the right time."

Sangakkara had taken the chairman of selectors, Aravinda de Silva, into confidence about three weeks prior to the World Cup about his decision. "I spoke to Aravinda de Silva about it and we didn't want to make any formal announcement or anything at that time because that would have been detrimental to our World Cup effort. And whether we had gone out of the first round of the World Cup or whether we had gone all the way, it wouldn't have mattered, this decision would have still stood.

"We announce it now because I leave for the IPL tomorrow and I need to make sure that the selectors have enough time."

Muttiah Muralitharan was the first person in the team to know about Sangakkara's decision, even before he had conveyed it to de Silva. "I shared it with most of my close associates in the team. Murali and Mahela knew about this long before we started playing the World Cup. Murali always supported me in this decision.

"I shared it with my team over the last few days and they understand why my decision is being made. As a team, they feel very ready to embrace a new leader, a new captain, and support that person to the fullest."