Our own Sri Lanka cricketing icon Kumar Sangakkara has ascended to another cricketing record; This time for his intellectual capacity and personal charm by his acceptance to the lofty fold by the lords or keepers of the game at the Merleborne Cricket Club as its first non British President. It is by all accounts a type of cricketing rocket launch orbiting to the highest honour in a different region from his cricket record breaking feats. An singular honour that many cannot stake claims to in the elite that only the former magical batsman and Sri Lanka captain has mounted.
Indeed, it is a significant giant leap to the most hallowed of citadels of world cricket in England, the birth land of cricket that has once again set the Sri Lankan great apart in the realms of the magical. If his mighty cricketing deeds that among many took the mercurial left hander next to the Don of cricket Sir Donald Bradman for the second highest record of Test double centuries by his 11 to the all-time great Australian’s 11, stepping into the highest office at the MCC is as much calling the shots right upfront as its topmost administrator. For the lords at hallowed MCC to have invited Kumar Sangakkara to wear the big crown of it’s over century long institution that symbolizes the game of cricket as its custodian marks a new history making chapter; a chapter of decorative magnificence in an enchanting aura that in perspective is sweet music to self and country. It is certainly champagne stuff for cricket crazy Sri Lanka to serenade in; a landmark that Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) Secretary, Mohan de Silva last Monday hailed as a silver lining in the dark hour the country has been gripped with by the recent Easter Sunday terrorist attack.
In a sport that essentially is all about competing and winning on the cricket field, this decision by the cricketing lords of MCC in handpicking a Sri Lankan as its figure head is a sky high testament of the progress of a Sri Lankan who has thus not only walked the talk like a mighty colossus on the cricket field, but walked the walk by sheer silken grace of an intellectual for his oratory magnificence and nobility that has endeared Kumar Sangakkara to the cricket world at large. It has therein portrayed Sangakkara as an illuminating symbol transcending the game to new depths that has manifested Sri Lanka on the high road from a once low road when it’s cricketers raised their hands to put their country on the world map. Kumar Chokshanada Sangakkara, aged 41, rose to the highest stature as an eloquent orator highlighted by the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture he delivered some years back. His silken, crisp voice and flow of the words earned Sangakkara touched the pulse of the audience drawing rounds of applause and accolades. He had the added honour of becoming the youngest person to deliver the Cowdrey lecture. Sangakkara also holds honorary life membership at MCC, his portrait having being unveiled along with his longtime team colleague Mahela Jayawardene. For the record, Sangakkara holds the record for the highest number of first class centuries of 53 with the only other Sri Lankan to mount the 50 mark being Mahela Jayawardene.
Born on October 27, 1977 in Matale, Sangakkara, who schooled at Trinity College, Kandy, made his Test debut at age 22 on July 20, 2000 against South Africa. He has gone down in history as one of the most polished and prudent of batsmen in cricket. He dominated the number one spot in the ICC Test batting rankings between 2005 and 2015 and was a key member of the victorious 2014 ICC T20 World Cup of which he won the Man of the Match award in the final. Sangakkara is the fastest batsman to reach 8,000, 9,000, 11,000 and 12,000 runs in Test cricket. He is also joint fastest to 10,000 and he won the ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2012, Test Cricketer of the Year in 2012, and ODI Cricketer of the Year multiple times in 2011 and 2013.]He has also won the LG People’s Choice Award twice, in 2011 and 2012. Sangakkara has regularly featured in the World Test XI and World ODI XI, appearing six times and three times in them, respectively.
He was selected as Leading Cricketer in the World in the 2012 and 2015 editions of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and the only player to have won it twice. Sangakkara was rated as the Greatest ODI player of all time in a public poll conducted by Cricket Australia in 2016. He scored 12,400 Test runs studded with 38 centuries and 52 half centuries and highest of 319 averaging 57.40, and 14,234 ODI runs, 25 centuries and 93 half centuries with highest of 169 averaging 41.98.
On 29 January 2015, Sangakkara became Sri Lanka’s highest ever ODI run scorer, surpassing the previous record of 13,430 runs held by Sanath Jayasuriya. In the same match, he also broke the record for ODI wicket keeping dismissals surpassing Adam Gilchrist’s record of 472.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-