Kumar Sangakarra is arguably the greatest Sri Lankan player of all time. With an exceptional average of 55.89 in Test matches, Sangakarra requires just 107 more runs to join the exclusive 10,000 club. His ground-breaking career has earned him the highest praises, with the crafty left-hander being named Cricketer of the Year for 2011 and 2012.
His career started promisingly, as the wicketkeeper-batsman notched centuries against India and the West Indies. Even from an early age, big things were expected from the top-order player and it didn’t take long for Sangakarra to live up to the hype. Double centuries against Pakistan and Zimbabwe before his 27th birthday launched him to the upper echelons of world cricket.
His stunning form continued in 2006, when he and Mahela Jayawardene combined for a record partnership of 624. It was an unprecedented total, with the South African attack including Makhaya Ntini and the emerging Dale Steyn. It was in this innings that Sangakarra hit his highest Test score; a sparkling 287.
Sangakarra’s meteoric rise was earning comparisons to players such as Sachin Tendulkar. His scintillating stroke play was a joy to watch for everyone but opposition bowlers, who were having a torrid time trying to dismiss the Sri Lankan prodigy. In 2007, he belted back to back double centuries against Bangladesh to confirm his status as the world’s best batsman.
To further honour his incredible form, Sangakarra was named captain of the Test side in 2009. Although he didn’t experience immediate success, Sangakarra’s two year tenure was still respectable. After giving up the role, Sangakarra’s batting returned to its brilliant best, with the former captain blasting 516 runs in a three Test series against Pakistan.
While his Test career has been widely lauded, Sangakarra’s ODI performances have been equally as impressive. The master has amassed over 10,000 in the 50 over game. Even in the shorter form of the game, Sangakarra has maintained his elegant technique while dispatching bowlers all over the park. His 14 centuries have guided the Sri Lankans to successive World Cup finals against Australia and India.
Easily the most underrated facet of his game is his wicket keeping. On the low, slow pitches of Sri Lanka, Sangakarra had to keep to some of the most formidable bowlers in the game. His understanding of spin helped him greatly with the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan and co. His 81 stumpings in ODI’s remains a world record.
Sangakarra will head to Australia in what will probably be his final tour down under. If all goes to plan, the Sri Lankan legend will bring up his 10,000th run to cap off a stellar career. For the Australian bowlers, the wicket of Kumar Sangakarra will be one they remember for life.