London: Kumar Sangakkara is regarded as one of the most intelligent and eloquent figures in world cricket, but as Sri Lanka goes into next week’s third Test against England at the Rose Bowl in Hampshire, he will be a reluctant captain in place of an injured Tillekratne Dilshan.
Sangakkara quit the captaincy in the wake of Sri Lanka’s defeat by India in the World Cup final in April after becoming fed up with the constant political interference in his country’s cricket. Now, it has taken the intervention of the Sri Lankan government and chairman of selectors Duleep Mendis to ensure that Sangakkara, who refused to captain the side in their tour match against Essex last week, will be at the helm again.
A magazine quoted Anura Tennakoon, the Sri Lanka team manager, as saying: “Kumar said he wasn’t mentally prepared to do the job, but after talks, he gave it some deep thought and decided to help the team and his country. He wanted to concentrate on his batting but he is the sort of guy who will now put his mind to the job and give his very best as leader.”, he added.
It is the biggest indicator yet of an ill-fated visit which began with several of Sri Lanka’s leading players, including Sangakkara, arriving in England late after playing in the Indian Premier League and then the embarrassment of their capitulation in the first Test in Cardiff.
Sri Lanka rallied in the draw at Lord’s, not least because of Dilshan’s batting, but then their morale was hit by the extraordinary decision of the country’s president to insist that Sanath Jayasuriya play in the first one-day international later this month simply to be given a proper send-off into retirement.
Now, they will be led in the third npower Test by a captain who does not want to do the job any more but who has still been preferred to Thilan Samaraweera, who skippered the side at Chelmsford when Sangakkara said he would not.