This site has already had cause to wax lyrical about Sri Lankan wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara. At an age (37) when most players are well into their decline—the muscles tightening, the hand–eye coordination slackening, the hunger gone—Sangakkara has not only had an astonishingly productive period with the bat in Test cricket in the last eighteen months, but has waltzed into this World Cup and scored four ODI centuries in succession (a record for the World Cup), and, for good measure, passed 500 one-day catches behind the stumps—yet another record.
Sangakkara has shown (as has Kiwi Brendon McCullum) that excellence in the Test arena can not only not damage one’s ability in one-day cricket, but either can enhance the other. T20 cricket has forced batsmen to use their feet, be creative, and take risks, and it’s brought a new lease of life to Sangakkara, who without any loss of concentration and drop in orthodox batting technique, has swatted and scooped and driven himself to a formidable Test average of 58+ per innings and is now second only to Sachin Tendulkar in runs scored in ODIs.
Naturally, all Sri Lanka and half of the remainder of the cricketing world is pleading with Sangakkara to stay. Yet he’s announced he will retire from one-day international cricket later on this year and step away from the Test arena shortly thereafter. That determination to leave when you’re at the very top of your game and the level of maturity that comes with making that decision will be surely missed. So, enjoy vintage Sangakkara while the bottle lasts.