He made his pick for the award when asked to do so in a recent edition of the Star Sports show Cricket Connected.
While observing it is a difficult call, Gautam Gambhir cast his vote for Sangakkara. He reasoned the Sri Lankan legend has an outstanding record both home and away in all three formats of the game.
"It is tough to choose but for me, Kumar Sangakkara. It is because his records are there anyway, which will remain in all three formats of the game. He hasn't played so much of T20 cricket as probably the other guys have, but if you see across formats he has got runs in every condition."
Gautam Gambhir added that apart from his individual records, the Sri Lankan team enjoyed great success when Kumar Sangakkara was around. The wicketkeeper-batsman was the Player of the Match when Sri Lanka defeated India in the 2014 T20 World Cup final.
"He was an unbelievable player but apart from that he has the trophies as well. He played the World Cup final in 2011 and then after that won the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh."
Gautam Gambhir highlighted Sangakkara also scored four consecutive centuries in the 2015 World Cup.
"So, when we talk about the sort of record you have as a player, he has an amazing record. He hit four centuries in the World Cup and along with that he has also won trophies for his country."
Gautam Gambhir pointed out that apart from his exploits with the bat, Kumar Sangakkara donned the keeping gloves for the Sri Lankan team.
"And at the same time he used to keep wickets as well. So for me, Kumar Sangakkara will be the player of the decade."
Gautam Gambhir on the likely challengers for Kumar Sangakkara
Gautam Gambhir was further asked if Virat Kohli will be the biggest challenger to Kumar Sangakkara for the award. He replied in the affirmative while citing the Indian captain's excellent record across formats over the last few years.
"Yes, Virat Kohli will be the one. If you see the last 7-8 years, then Virat Kohli is the only player who has dominated all the three formats. And if your average is above 50 in all the three formats, then you come to know how consistent you are in all the three formats."
While highlighting that Steve Smith and Joe Root do not have a great record in the shortest format of the game, Gautam Gambhir signed off by reiterating that Virat Kohli will pose the biggest challenge to Kumar Sangakkara for the ICC Cricketer of the Decade award.
"We can probably talk about Steve Smith but his T20 record and that of Joe Root is not that great. Kane Williamson is also in that category but I feel if someone comes closest to Kumar Sangakkara, then it is Virat Kohli."
Apart from the aforementioned names, AB de Villiers and Ravichandran Ashwin have been nominated for the ICC Cricketer of the Decade award.
Although Gautam Gambhir has picked Kumar Sangakkara as the frontrunner, he may not get the award as he was active in international cricket for only five years in the current decade. Virat Kohli and Steve Smith would consider themselves as the favourites to walk away with this prestigious accolade.
Published 22 Dec 2020, 13:09 IST