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Sangakkara’s Emotional Adieu - Toms Berk

     Kumar Sangakkara bid adieu to Test cricket in Colombo after the second Test between Sri Lanka and India. He couldn’t go with a win as India won the Test by 278 runs. But the retiring Sri Lankan legend received an emotional and memorable farewell from all present – his team, the crowd, his loved ones and the Indian team.

     A gentleman of international cricket for over 15 years, the iconic Sri Lankan player called it quits from international cricket. Ever the gracious man, Kumar, as he is fondly called, was the first to walk out to congratulate the Indians for their win before making way to a special presentation ceremony organised in his honour.
At the ceremony attended by dignitaries like the Sri Lankan President, Prime Minister, Arjuna Ranatunga and Sunil Gavaskar, a teary-eyed Sangakkara brought the curtains down on his phenomenal Test career by giving a heart-warming impromptu speech at the P Sara Oval Stadium in Colombo.

     Sangakkara reserved his biggest word of thanks for his parents and he wholeheartedly thanked them for making him the man he is."I never had to look too far for inspiration as it was always there at home. They say you can choose your friends but not your family. I am so glad that I was born into yours," Sangakkara said looking towards his parents and wife Yehali, who were clearly fighting hard not to be overcome by their emotions.“I've had 15 wonderful years and everyone asks me what my biggest achievement was – the World Cup (World Twenty20) win or the hundreds I've scored. But I would like to say, when I look up at the box today and see all my friends, the people I've known for 30 years of my life, people I've met later in life, all coming here on a Monday to support me. To have all my family here, my friends here, and after this day is over, to sit down at home and spend some time with my family and to see that they still love me no

matter what happens, no matter whether I win or lose, that their love is unconditional – it will be my greatest achievement.”

     During his speech, an emotional Sangakkara thanked his family, his teachers, coaches, his manager, friends, fans, his past and current teammates and the Indian team and said that representing Sri Lanka gave him immense pleasure.

     Kumar Sangakkara was the last chip of the greatest Sri Lankan quartet of the 21st century - Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene.  Sangakkara's exit means Sri Lanka will now be on a truly transitional phase. Angelo Mathews will have a massive load to carry forward.

     Sangakkara left behind a slew of batting records and a rich legacy good enough to inspire the next generation. The 2012 ICC Cricketer of the Year finished his 134-Test career with 12,400 runs with a 57-plus average. It puts him fifth in the list of highest Test run scorers, while the 14,000-plus runs he scored in 404 one-dayers, places the 38-year-old second in the 50-over list - after Sachin Tendulkar. He has scored 63 international centuries! His 11 test –double centuries was second only to the great Bradman’s 12. His partnership with his friend Mahela Jayawardene was often the foundation on which Sri Lanka built their innings. At least statistically, Sangakkara was the greatest batsman Sri Lanka ever produced.  Sangakkara, the quintessential gentleman cricketer, was not exactly a "yes" man and was never afraid to speak his mind to the establishment during disputes. A man, whose loyalty to the nation was once questioned by overzealous administrators, was offered the role of a diplomat in the UK by none other than the country's President. Not even the legendary Muralitharan, a whose contribution to the society during the times of the Lankan

civil war made the world sit up, was offered such a position. 

     Kumar Sangakkara, the genial, self-effacing Sri Lankan, no less a batsman than Tendulkar and in many aspects equally great, if not better, finally stepped aside and walked into the sunset without too much of a fuss. His achievements are probably less highlighted and it is only when you look at his records you realize how great a player he was. For a large part of his career, he kept wickets as well. It is a burden which not many can bear, more so if they happen to be the number one batsmen of their team as well.

     Not that statistics alone can decide the quality of a player, but in Sangakkara’s case, he stood the test of any scrutiny – be it the quality of his elegant stroke-play, his iron-willed temperament and his appetite for runs, and centuries. There was no trace of brute force behind his elegant strokes. It was just like his public persona – under-stated, yet so effective that the end result always left a deep impact on the fortunes of his team. Not only Sri Lankan fans, but the “gentleman’s game” called cricket too, stands to feel the void!