Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara says goodbye to first-class Cricket
London: Sri Lankan batting great Kumar Sangakkara has announced his retirement from first-class Cricket after winding up this season.
The 39-year-old wicket-keeper-batsman, who retired from Test Cricket in 2015, is the fifth highest run scorer in Test Cricket.
Telling about saying goodbye to Cricket career, Sanga said, "You try to fight the inevitable but you need to get out while you're ahead," adding, "It's the last time I'll play a four-day game here (at Lord's). I'll be 40 in a few months, this is about the end of my time in county Cricket."
Kumar Sangakkara has a few Twenty20 contracts left to honour which would span till 2018, but the left-hand batsman said, "My career might have a few more months (left) but that's about it."
He has 12,400 runs in 134 Tests at a phenomenal average of 57.40. He slammed 11 double centuries during his ravishing career, with the highest Test score of 319 runs. After retiring from Test Cricket, he joined Surrey for the 2015 season.
Sanga scored more than 1,000 first-class runs in the last season and despite he hit two centuries against Middlesex over the weekend, he believes that September is the perfect time to call off his career in the longer format.
"The biggest mistake that sometimes you can make is that you think you're better than you really are," he said, adding, "Cricketers, or any sort of sportsperson, have an expiry date and you need to walk away. I have been very lucky to play for as long as I did so but there's a lot more life to be lived away from the game."
A very few cricketers would have a chance of signing off their first-class career at Lord's in as much style as Sangakkara. Apart from hitting two brilliant match-saving hundreds, the former Durham and Warwickshire player also completed his 20,000 first-class runs.
Those feats coincided with him having his portrait - which hangs beside those of fellow Sri Lanka greats Mahela Jayawardene and Muttiah Muralitharan - unveiled in the Lord's pavilion.
"It was a great privilege and an honour. I think the artist has made me look better than I actually am," he joked, adding, "I sat here in my last Test at Lord's for Sri Lanka thinking 'I hope I get a hundred, but wouldn't it be funny if I get out for a duck'. You never think of (scoring a) hundred. You think 'I want to get a hundred', but then you just try and do your processes, you try and get through tough periods, and bat as the game develops."
"I wasn't aware I'd reached 20,000 (first-class) runs - I only really know how many Test and One-Day International runs I've scored - but it was really nice to find out that I passed (that milestone).
Sangakkara is scheduled to play in the Caribbean Premier League at the end of June. During the time he will be there, Aaron Finch will be playing for Surrey as his replacement. Sanga says, he will continue to play Cricket after the end of English domestic season.
Kumar Sangakkara has been in professional sport for over 19 years now, and after he would stop playing, the Cricket lovers across the globe would surely miss his trademark cover drive.
On being asked if he would play T20 Cricket after this summer, he replied in affirmative, saying, "Yes, I think the mercenary in me is still alive. I've got a couple of contracts I have to honour this year and one at the start of the next year. No-one wants an old dog just playing for the sake of playing."
"I think it's a good thing that all these (Twenty20) competitions push you to perform. That's the incentive because otherwise, if you're going to be a part of a side just to be the benchmark name, that's a bit disappointing," he concluded.