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Pop the Question

'My motivation is 30 Test hundreds'

Sri Lanka's captain answers readers' questions on batting in Twenty20s, keeping wickets for long hours, the hardest spell of bowling he has faced, and more

Kumar Sangakkara pads up during an inter-provincial Twenty20 match, SSC, Colombo, March 26, 2009

Work on your lower-body strength in the gym to keep wickets for long  •  AFP

1. What's the best thing about being a cricketer? asked Jeevan from India
The best thing about being a cricketer is the fact that you get to display your mastery of technique, skill, ability, mental and physical fortitude to a world audience. It gives you the opportunity to play for a place in history and also your office is the outdoors and your place is in the sun. What more can you ask for?
2. Why is it that Sri Lanka produces so many unusual cricketers? Sanath, Murali, Malinga, Mendis ... asked Derrick May from Australia
One of the reasons might be that these guys somehow slipped through the cracks of formalised coaching and had the ability to develop a unique style on their own. Sri Lanka has become famous for the unorthodox cricketer, and it is mainly due to the keen interest children show in playing the sport and the fact that they play it on various surfaces with a variety of available equipment. They improvise and create ways to impress with their batting and bowling. These cricketers, through our talent search programmes, are brought into a formal coaching set-up and encouraged to explore their uniqueness to the fullest.
3. What is the hardest spell of bowling you have ever faced? asked Aaditya Sisodia from the UK
It was probably on my first tour away from home, in South Africa in Cape Town, on a wicket that was helpful to the seamers. Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock, Mfuneko Ngam and Makaya Ntini bowled quick and well. They tested our whole team out.
4. Who according to you is the best wicketkeeper-batsman currently in world cricket? asked Mihir Daftary from the USA
The best wicketkeeper is, without a doubt, Prasanna Jayawardene. Brad Haddin has a bit on him in batting.
5. I believe Test cricket should never die. Let the purists enjoy it. Throw ODIs out of the window and let Twenty20 take its place. Commercialise Twenty20s and make as much as you want, but Test cricket should never die. Does this make any sense? asked Matt from the USA
I believe Test cricket is the ultimate form of cricket and should be protected, nurtured and allowed to flourish. The other formats should be able to play a supporting role to it and contribute innovation to it. Ultimately all three formats should exist in harmony, with each benefiting the other.
6. Technical question: the slower the bowler, the more trouble I seem to have to bat against them, is it true that a batsman needs more footwork for slower bowlers than for faster bowlers? asked Mustafa from the USA
Sometimes the slower bowlers are the hardest to hit as you have to generate all the power yourself. Your footwork must not only be quick but more importantly decisive. Going down the wicket to get to the pitch or going on to the back foot to pull, you must be positive and trust your ability. Footwork is key.
7. It always seems to me that Twenty20 is a bit of a lottery, in that any team can win on any day if one or two players have a great run for four or five overs. Is there sufficient scope for strategies and tactics in Twenty20, or is it a bit more of a turn-up-and-let it swing game? What do players think? asked Madhu from India Twenty20 is a game for strategy and execution of game plans with less room for error than other formats. Your thinking has to be precise and clear and your strategy sharp. A mistake is magnified and can itself be the difference between winning and losing, so every player must be ready and responsible for their performance.
8. Which one is harder to face in the nets, Murali or Mendis? And who is harder to keep to, in the nets and in matches? asked Roger Sawh from Guyana
Murali is still the hardest, but Mendis is catching up fast.
9. I am also a wicketkeeper. It is very difficult for me to keep beyond 25-30 overs. How can I strengthen my legs so that I can keep for 50 or more overs in a day? asked Sourav Bhattacharya from India
You have to work on lower-body strength, and the best way is to join a gym and speak to the trainer for specific weights exercises to improve muscle strength.
10. You've been an awesome player for many years now. What keeps the motivation going? Have you ever seen a case of motivation dipping off once you've achieved a particular level? asked Anirudh from the UK
My personal motivation is 30 Test hundreds and 10,000 runs in both Tests and one-dayers. That will keep me going for a few more years, and when I get there I will set new goals. As part of the team, my motivation is to win every time we go out to play and play in the right spirit and compete for every minute.
11. Who are your three all-time favourite cricketers and why? asked Aditya from India
Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Murali - all greats in their disciplines. Viv for his arrogance at the crease and the ease with which he batted; Brian for his sheer genius, unpredictabilty and style; Murali for being the greatest bowler ever and a great human being.