DHAKA - Having announced his retirement from T20 internationals, Kumar Sangakkara on Monday said that he would like to call time on his ODI career after the 2015 ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The veteran Sri Lankan batsman termed it a "natural progression".
"As far as ODI and Test cricket are concerned, it's hard to make a time frame. I am 36 years old now and will be 37 next year during the time of World Cup. By next World Cup, I will be 41 and I don't hope that I am playing then. So 2015 World Cup will be my last. It's a kind of natural progression," Sangakkara said during an interaction during the open session of Sri Lankan team.
"For Test cricket, form, fitness and enjoyment factors are there for you to continue. There is no denying I am in the twilight of my career," he said. With Mahela Jayawardene also announcing his retirement from T20 Internationals, the transition phase in Lankan cricket is about to start just like it happened in India a few years back. But Sangakkara felt that Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal are two players who will carry the Sanga-Mahela legacy.
"I think it's going to be fine. If you look at Thirimanne and Chandimal, they are ready to play in any form of cricket. I think that if me and Mahela decide to quit today, tomorrow or whenever we do, it's not going to make a huge difference. Angelo Mathews is maturing as the Test and ODI captain. Dinesh is also a young captain. Sri Lankan cricket is in very good hands," said the man who has played 122 Tests, 369 ODIs besides 50 T20 Internationals.
According to Sangakkara, the key to success is to withstand the rigours of international cricket for long time. "The key is to refine the talent and make the players ready to withstand the pressures of international cricket. And it's not just for one or two years but for longer periods," he said. While Sangakkara is calling it quits as far as T20 Internationals are concerned, the veteran left-hander will continue playing franchisee based T20 cricket.
He made no bones about the fact that financial considerations have to be seriously taken into account as far as T20 cricket is concerned. "Firstly, I enjoy the format and that's very important. Secondly, cricket is how I make my living and hopefully that would not change for a couple of years. I know a lot of people say that that's how (T20 leagues) cricketers make their living but that is what the case is. We are professional cricketers," he said.
Coming back to the timing of his retirement, Sangakkara said that it wasn't a difficult decision as Sri Lanka won't play too many T20 Internationals until the 2015 World Cup. "It wasn't too difficult really. There are no significant T20 tournaments in the near future. I think we will play just one or two T20 international games until the 2015 World Cup. Whether I would have announced it or not, this would have been my last T20 international tournament. You always hope that the day when you retire never comes but that day definitely comes," he said with a smile.
Sangakkara, who has been a part of last edition of Indian Premier League, said that it has played its part in popularising the game. "With IPL, everyone knew that T20 is here to stay. The format has created a new fan base and ICC has also done their bit to promote it." Sri Lanka have played two finals in four editions of World T20 but Sangakkara rued having not won a single of them. They have also lost two finals in the 50-over World Cups.
"In 2007, in South Africa, we were pretty raw but to reach the final in 2009 (England) was great. In 2012, at home again, we reached the finals but let it slip. I think in the two finals, we made enough mistakes to let it slip," he said. While speaking about the memories, Sangakkara said, "14 years is a long time in international cricket. You share the dressing room with a very rare group of players. These are the best memories that you can walk away with."
On his part, the team's young gun Thirimanne said that it will be the best parting gift for the former captain if they can win the ongoing World T20. "It is very difficult to match Sanga or Mahela's record. It will be a great gift if we could win the World T20 for Sanga," Thirimanne said.