Sanga’s sad swan song

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By Kersi Meher-Homji

On 20th August, two Test greats – Australia’s Michael Clarke and Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara – played their final Tests; Clarke at The Oval, London against England and Sangakkara at Colombo (PSS) against India.

Clarke’s swan song was widely publicised in Australian media. Not so Sangakkara’s.

There are many similarities in the stats of these legendary batsmen.

Both have played over 100 Tests, scored over 27 Test tons including a triple century each and taken over 100 catches. But Sanga’s figures are superior as shown below:

In 134 Tests, Sangakkara, age 37, amassed 12,400 runs at 57.40 with 38 centuries (highest score 319) and took 182 catches and stumped 20.

In 115 Tests, Clarke, 34, scored 8643 runs at 49.10 with 28 centuries (highest score 329 not out) and took 31 wickets at 38.19 and 134 catches.

The career highlight for Sangakkara was his 287 runs in the Colombo 2006 Test against South Africa and his record stand of 624 runs for the third wicket with Mahela Jayawardene (374). This remains the highest run partnership for any wicket in the annals of Test cricket.

Importantly, it was against the bowling of Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini.

Both Clarke and Sanga failed with the bat in their final Tests; Clarke 15 at The Oval and Sanga 32 and 18 at Colombo. But Clarke had the consolation of Australia defeating England by an innings whereas Sri Lanka lost to India by 278 runs.

Another Australian batsman, Chris Rogers, also played his last Test, scoring 43 runs at The Oval.

TIDU wishes the retiring trio of Sanga, Clarkey and Rogers all the very best.

Below are abstracts from Kumar Sangakkara’s farewell speech after the Colombo Test was finished on 24th August.

“Your Excellency, the President of Sri Lanka, the honourable Prime Minister, members of Parliament, all the well wishers and the invitees, fans, all my friends, my family – who are all here, which is a rare occasion that all of us are together – Virat Kohli and the Indian team, Angelo [Mathews] and my team, I have got so many people to thank here.

I will start off with my school – Trinity College, Kandy. Trinity College gave me a fantastic ground there in Kandy. It was an amazing school to go to. To all my coaches — a big thank you.

To all my past captains, to Sri Lanka Cricket, to all my team-mates, thank you very much for everything that you’ve done for me. The support that I received, the inspiration, the drive and the commitment you have shown … I value all very, very highly. I am going to miss all that chat we had in the dressing room.

To Charlie and Suthami Austin, thank you very much for managing me…

I didn’t have to look far for inspiration [gets emotional]. My parents are here. I didn’t have to look far. I had amazing siblings. I am blessed with a wonderful family. I was blessed to be born as your children. When I look up at the box, people that I’ve known for 30 years, friends, family, everyone is here and to see that they love me is great and it will be my greatest achievement.

Lot of people ask me who inspired me and I always say I didn’t have to look far for inspiration… I have the most amazing parents that anyone could wish for.

I had amazing siblings and all the support, the love that they showed over the years, whether I played cricket or not, whether I did well or not, the only place I could go and feel safe was home and thank you ‘amma’ (mother) and ‘apachchi’ (father). Thank you.

It’s been one of the most special privileges of my life to play in front of the Sri Lankan people and Sri Lankan fans. I’m especially thankful to your love and support. My innings has ended. I won’t play international cricket again. But I’ll come with you Khettarama, to Galle, to Tamil Union, and to SSC to watch the young cricketers play.

To Virat and his team, thank you most of all for the wonderful cricket that you’ve played. I can’t ask for anything more than tough cricket when I’m leaving and you guys over the years have been our toughest opponents.

We’ve planned to beat you, we have at times and at other times we have failed, but thank you so much for putting in that effort. It doesn’t matter whether we lost today [Monday], we will try to beat you again in the next game, but thank you for the toughness, thank you for giving no quarter, and thank you for really making it a privilege of mine to play against you.

And to Angelo and the team… Angie you’ve got an amazing team, you’ve got an amazing future and I just hope you will work hard and enjoy this sport, this sport we only play for a short time. It comes and goes, but don’t be afraid. Take pride in what you do, don’t be afraid to lose when you are searching for a win, and keep Sri Lanka and the flag flying high.

Thank you.”

And thank you Sangakkara for the pleasure you gave us over the years with your elegant batting, agile wicket-keeping and your gentlemanly behaviour.

 

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