Call him the Sachin Tendulkar of Sri Lanka or the great Lankan wall but all these adjectives fail to sum up the man who is one of the greatest to play cricket ever. While the world was going gaga over Sachin, Ponting, Cook, Dravid and others, one man was quietly doing his job of scoring mountains of runs consistently, leading his side to victories and controlling the the game from behind the wickets. He is one of the most unsung batsman of this era – Kumar Sangakkara.
Everyone knows what a stylish batsman Sangakkara has been and how brilliant has been as a wicket keeper but his numbers and records can send anyone in awe. Unfortunately, Sangakkara had to wait for his final years on the field to command the respect that he deserved. Speaking for myself, I was in for a complete surprise when saw his statistics on Tests and ODIs both. He was nowhere less than the legend Sachin Tendulkar. His averages in all forms of crickets were monumental, amongst the highest of all time.
Sangakkara first arrived at the international scene in 2000 as a 22 year old wicket-keeper batsman and little did anyone imagine the heights he was going to conquer. Sangakkara had the natural elegance of a left hander and flair of his own. His drives were fluent, cuts were crisp, pulls powerful and the flicks flowy. He had every shot in the book with no real chinks in his armour. He had the temperament to bat for long periods of time, the nerves of steel under pressure and a natural aggressive game. He was more than efficient behind the wickets and was a complete package for his team.
Sri Lanka considers Aravinda De Silva and Sanath Jayasuriya as their best batsmen ever and that is not incorrect as they are unmatchable but Kumar Sangakkara has overtaken every record to his name and has emerged as the most successful Sri Lankan Batsman ever. He is known for his record breaking partnerships with Mahela Jayawardane, both in tests and ODIs , in fact they hold the world record for the highest partnership in test matches.
If we try to limit Sangakkara in numbers, we could have a severe breakdown. Just to go through some of them; he has accumulated more than 28000 runs in international cricket, second only to Sachin Tendulkar. He is the highest run getter ever for Sri Lanka. He holds the record for fastest 8000, 9000, 11000 and 12000 runs while he is joint fastest for 10000 runs in test cricket. He holds the record for highest number of consecutive centuries in a world cup – 4 in world cup 2015 (his last tournament). His personal bests are 319 and 169 in tests and ODIs respectively. He has been a part of 2007 and 2011 ODI World Cup finals and 2009, 2012 and 2014 (victorious) T20 World Cup finals. He also has the most number of dismissals as a wicketkeeper in ODIs. He is the second highest run getter in ODIs and fifth highest in tests.
Kumar Sangkkara can never fit into numbers. There is no adjective sufficient enough to describe the player he was. No doubt, he is a true legend and one of the greatest to ever to have played the game of cricket.