Erudite, suave, and far more engaging than he usually appears, Kumara Sangakkara is a man who knows his beans. The Sri Lankan, who gave up on a law degree to pursue cricket, speaks with clarity and conviction, and is not hesitant to speak his mind, however dicey the question be.
Asked whether it would be tough for the eight IPL franchisees to command loyalty and local support, keeping in mind the eclectic bunch of cricketers within their ranks, Sangakkara gave a honest reply.
“It depends on how quickly the public embraces the players as one of their own. It may take more than a year for them to relate to us, but as the tournament progresses and the players come back for another term and become regular fixtures, they will connect and relate,” said Sangakkara.
Lured by the riches, players, current and former, have advocated the need for the ICC to create a window for the IPL in the coming years, to ensure that all the top names are available, and also to avoid a potential clash of interest between club and country. Sangakkara felt that prudence should prevail and balance be struck between the game’s and players’ interest.
“Players have never had a say before in such matters but at the end of the day, it’s a question of their careers. I don’t think it should ever come down to a choice between country and club or anything else. A window should be arranged, I don’t see a problem in creating a window of 45 days,” he said.
Sangakkara also felt that the tournament would get more interesting after the first fortnight when the Australians and West Indian players, and some from New Zealand, will be forced to cut short their stay owing to international commitments.
“I think the tournament will get interesting then. It will allow the domestic Indian players to come in the picture and show their mettle. They will play a pivotal role then as they are a very important part of the franchisees.”
He said the standards of the IPL, shot down by purists as ‘Maggi noodles cricket’, were very high and players are under pressure to perform.
Besides being insightful, Sangakkara was also cheeky in between.
Asked if he thought the top stars had failed to shine in the first week, he grinned. “Sometimes there’s a world of difference between the perception of the media and the public!”