Sangakkara offered post of Sri Lanka's high commissioner to UK

  • Agencies, Colombo
  • Updated: Sep 22, 2015 11:57 IST
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena hands over a moment to cricketer Kumar Sangakkara at the end of the second test cricket match in Colombo. (AP Photo)

Kumar Sangakkara's final Test at his home ground Colombo didn't turn out to be the fairy tale that he would have hoped for as India thrashed the home side by 278 runs. But the batting legend fought back tears as the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena stumped him by offering him the high commissioner's post in the UK.

But the 37-year-old left-hander, who signed off with 12,400 runs in 134 Tests at an average of 57.40, had a wide grin on his face for most part as dignitaries -- one after another -- showered him with mementos and good wishes in an elaborate farewell ceremony after the match ended on Monday.

None other than Sunil Gavaskar was there to welcome him into the "Former Cricketers' Club".

"People ask me about the big achievements, the hundreds, the World Cup wins, but I just look up at the box, all my friends over the last 30 years have come up here on a Monday to watch me play. To be able to go back to a family that will love me whether I win or lose, that is my greatest achievement," said Sangakkara in a speech thanking everyone from his former school principal to the formative coaches to the visiting Indians.

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Much before the actual ceremony, the affable batsman walked out to warm embraces and handshakes with Virat Kohli's men after the fall of the last Sri Lankan wicket on the fifth day of the match.

Signing autographs and posing for pictures with the ground-staff while the presentation ceremony was on, Sangakkara grinned widely when a special ceremony began to honour his contribution to the game.

Sri Lankan players carry Kumar Sangakkara on their shoulders and give him the round of the ground at the end of the second Test between Sri Lanka and India in Colombo. (AP Photo)

The dignitaries included Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Gavaskar and Sri Lanka's only World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga.

"I wish you an excellent second innings in life. I hope it is as incredible as your first innings. And now I welcome you to join...drum roll...former cricketers' club," Gavaskar quipped as he handed out an envelope to Sangakkara, leaving him in splits.

"You have been the big brother in the Sri Lankan dressing room. The sound of the ball hitting your bat and going for a boundary is the sound that no cricket lover would ever forget," said the former captain on a more serious note.

"Fairytale endings are not always possible. Kumar, you manfully shouldered the burden of expectations all these years. You could not go out on a high but what you have achieved over the last decade would be remembered."

In an emotional speech, Sangakkara had some advice to offer to captain Angelo Mathews.

"I hope you just work hard and enjoy the sport, sport you will play only for a short time, it comes and goes," he said. "But don't be afraid. Take pride in what you do, don't be afraid to lose when you are searching for a win and keep Sri Lanka's flag flying high."

Sangakkara began his cricket at Trinity College, an Anglican mission school in the central city of Kandy, and then started his first-class career at the Nondescripts Cricket Club.

His performances earned his a one-day international call up against Pakistan in 2000 and he made his Test debut against South Africa shortly afterward.

Sangakkara retired from limited overs cricket after this year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. By then he had scored 14,234 runs in 404 ODIs and 1,382 runs in 56 Twenty20 internationals.

See:India beat Sri Lanka on Day 5 of second Test to level series


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