Sangakkara reveals he became better after giving up keeping
Hanging up his keeping gloves is the “best thing” to have happened to his Test career said Sangakkara talking to ESPN Cricinfo.
Described as one of the "most polished and prudent of batsmen" in cricket, Sangakkara is set to retire after the first two Tests against India in the current series. He began his Test career behind the stumps, as Romesh Kaluwitharana's replacement. He had some success with the bat in the early years, averaging 46.90 in mid-2006, the selection committee then 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, and concerns were raised about him being fatigued to excel at both roles.
"I didn't like it when they stopped me keeping," Sangakkara said. "The selection committee spoke to me and said: ‘we're trying to 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.' 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 regrets not having won a World Cup after playing in two finals, but took pleasure from Sri Lanka's performances in major tournaments. Sri Lanka's inabilities to win Tests in Australia and India have also been a downside, but the team has generally fared better in England. They drew 1-1 in 2006, and 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," he said. "In that 2006 series when we drew, we also won the one-dayers 5-0.
Though his batting is often called attractive, Sangakkara does not consider he is a stylist. "They always say the left-handers were extremely graceful. I watched Brian Lara, and then Upul Tharanga and Lahiru Thirimanne from the younger lot, and feel they are much more pleasant to look at. Whenever I play the cover drive, with the back knee bent and head back, I just say to myself: 'How can that be stylish?' But I'm glad with the amount if runs I've scored and how effective I've been."
He planned on retiring after the World Cup, but the board wanted him to try and play a bit more Test cricket. Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews laughed when asked if he will persuade Sangakkara to play the third Test and also whether the series was locked at 1-1.
“If I had my way, I would want him to play for two more years,” Mathews said. “But we have to respect his decision and it is now up to the younger players to make a name for them.”