Galle: Veteran Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara on Tuesday said being relieved of the gloves behind the stumps in Tests was the "best thing" that happened to his career.
"I didn't like it when they stopped me keeping. But the selection committee spoke to me and said, 'What we're trying to do is improve your batting and to get you scoring more runs for the team. We are asking you to do this. It will be better for the team and better for you," Sangakkara was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo on Tuesday.
"At the time, I thought: 'That's not true. I can do both.' But when I look back on it now, that was the best thing to happen to me. It's great that they took that decision for me, without letting me take it. That has hugely influenced the runs that I scored, and the centuries I made."
Sangakkara had begun his Test career behind the stumps, as Romesh Kaluwitharana's replacement. But although he had some success with the bat in the early years, averaging 46.90 in mid-2006, the Ashantha de Mel-led selection committee believed he would be more valuable to the side as a specialist batsman.
Sangakkara had by then become Sri Lanka's regular No.3 batsman, raising concerns that he would be too fatigued to excel at both roles.
Sangakkara admitted he regrets not having won a World Cup after playing in two finals, but took particular pleasure from Sri Lanka's performances in major tournaments. Sri Lanka's inability to win Tests in Australia and India had also grated, but the team has generally fared better in England. They drew 1-1 in 2006, then defeated England 1-0 last year.
"I remember going to England with the team last year, and beating England 1-0 in that series was the best overseas tour I have been on. In that 2006 series when we drew, we also won the one-dayers 5-0," Sangakkara said.
Sangakkara will retire from all forms of the game after the three Tests against India. The first match begins on Wednesday.