Sanga shouldn't quit says Aravinda

Former great urges star batsman to chase Sachin's record


(File) Aravinda de Silva and Kumar Sangakkara formed a successful combination as Chairman of Selectors and Sri Lanka captain lead up to the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup where Sri Lanka finished runners-up.

by Rex Clementine

Former great Aravinda de Silva believes that star batsman Kumar Sangakkara should continue to play Test cricket after the ICC Cricket World Cup next year. Sangakkara has said he will not play any ODI cricket after the World Cup, but could be persuaded to continue playing Test cricket.

In an interview with The Island, De Silva said Sangakkara should chase one more milestone before bringing his illustrious career to an end.

"About two years ago, I thought there were four cricketers who could break Sachin’s record for most runs in Test cricket. I was confident that two of them will be Sri Lankans," de Silva said.

"Mahela, Sanga, Alastair Cook and Virat Kohli were the four guys whom I thought had a chance to break Sachin’s record. Now I see Mahela is finished, but Sanga should go on. I am proud we Sri Lankans own some unique records. We are only a young Test nation, but look at our records. We have scored the most runs in an innings in Test cricket. We have the highest wicket taker in Test cricket. We won the World Cup a mere 15 years after being given full ICC status. Some of the countries that have been playing Test cricket for over 100 years haven’t been able to accomplish these milestones. I will be a proud man if Sanga goes onto become the highest run scorer in Test cricket," de Silva said.

Tendulkar, who played in 200 Test Matches finished with 15,921 runs while Sangakkara is the highest run scorer in Tests among current players with 11,988 runs in 128 Tests. At the age of 37, Sanga’s passion for the game hasn’t dimmed. This year he is the highest run getter in Test cricket with 1486 runs to his name at an average of 78.

"I see the hunger and desire in Sanga still. I feel that he should continue to play Test cricket as long as he feels hungry and as long as the desire is there. He is a guy who knows when to stop. Until that day comes, I think he should continue and the whole country will support him until he reaches that goal."

"When I was playing, I never looked at these records seriously. But I think it’s important for us as a country. I hope Sanga looks at this as a benchmark and keeps pushing and goes onto achieve this. I am sure one day Kohli, who has so much talent will be chasing him. Nevertheless there is something for Sanga to chase and keep that hunger and motivation. I know it’s difficult to motivate yourself after a World Cup, but if the country is behind him he will be motivated to go on."

De Silva also said that too many seniors going at the same time isn’t a good sign and hence Sanga’s presence was vital. "We need to build up a few more players around him and we need to do it very quickly. Angelo Mathews has shown lot of talent and has taken up the pressure very well. He has performed outstandingly batting at a very important position. I was surprised to see Lahiru Thirimanne being left out. He is one guy I think will take over from Sanga one day. I saw his potential when he was in the under-19 team. He was a standby when I got involved with the under-19 team a few years back and I couldn’t believe it. When someone was injured I straight away wanted him in the team. His technique is such that I see a long career ahead of him. Dinesh Chandimal needs confidence and he needs to be secured about his place. Having the confidence of the selectors is important to start performing."

When De Silva was reaching the twilight of his career, many believed that Mahela Jayawardene will take over the mantle from him as Sri Lanka’s leading batsman. But Sanga came from nowhere to emerge as the leading Sri Lankan batsman in the post Aravinda de Silva era. "Sanga matured a bit late in his career. His success is due to his style of play. Some players are very consistent. Mahela is a different kind of player. He takes more chances whereas as Sanga actually reduces the risk element. You need a combination of talent in a team."



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