Kumar Sangakkara: Not Just A Great Sportsman But An Inspiring Gentleman.
Rated as the best test batsman in the world and praised by pundits as one of the most successful leaders of Sri Lanka cricket, marshaling the tiny island nation to two World Cup finals both in ODI’s and T20 format, and to the surprise of many, Chokshanada Kumar Sangakkara has stepped down from national captaincy. One can go on and on arguing about the gravity of this decision and the necessity of it.
In retrospect arguments aside, it’s high time to admire his untiring services. Going back down the memory lane, one day this gentleman will have one of the most interesting tales to recite to his grand children. And if there is an autobiography to be published, it will certainly be a top seller or perhaps a record breaker. Born to a very respectable Kandyan family Sangakkara was educated in Trinity College Kandy. It is justifiable to say that this average schoolboy grooms into an extraordinary gentleman at this famous place where river, lake and mountain meet.
Sangakkara first took up Tennis and Table Tennis in school and its one of those unsung achievements of his that this lad was once the all-island champion. During these days I have gathered from witnesses that Sangakkara had to undergo intense training at Kandy Garden Club courts with is father who taught him the technical aspect of the game by referring to various books sitting on the sidelines.
Later on Sangakkara is persuaded into playing Cricket in school level by the then Principal of Trinity Lt.Col. Lenoard De Alwis. From there on his illustrious career begins.
Through out his sporting life Sangakkara has had one hidden giant behind his heroics. That’s none other than his father. From improving skills onto developing stamina Sangakkara Snr.was right behind him.
Its not just sports that brought delight in his early life but academics were undoubtedly the other area he was brilliant at.
Sangakkara is an exuberant character who is always passionate about what he is doing. Despite playing for the College 1st XI and Sri Lanka U-19 teams he was able to round up his brilliant academic career by getting entrance to the Law Faculty with top results amid extreme competition. While receiving the coveted Trinity Lion, appointment as the Senior Prefect (Head Boy) and being awarded with the prestigious Ryde Gold Medal for the Best all-round student was certainly the icing on the cake. They say talent and dedication is an unbeatable combination. Sangakkara always went that extra mile to achieve the correct formula to success. Simply he is an “ all-rounder “ in every sense of the word.
I was quite astonished to hear from one of his comrades the other day that he was regarded as a carbon copy of Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar back in school days. As much as the Sri Lankan public lament over his decision to step down from the captaincy his colleagues repent about him not persuading in monumental statesmanship. But I presume that his magnetic charisma reflected in the international Cricketing circuit has already made him a legendary ambassador of Sri Lanka.
World record partnerships and batting averages are certainly two facets which are synonymous with his career. But in the modern sophisticated professional sporting scenario, this gentleman has contributed some thing far more valuable than achieving all of those milestones. He has showcased and mirrored the importance of great values in the gentleman’s game. He never waits for the umpire’s decision if he nicks the ball and has done it numerous times but in the meantime is humble enough to admit that he was inspired by Adam Gilchrist giving him the due respect.
In 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup, Sanga was featured in the famous sledging incident with Shaun Pollock. But great readers of the game call it “ sensible sledging” since knowledge, eloquence and wisdom were written all over those phrases. At an age where arrogance is dominating and ruining the sportsmanship, Sangakkara has been a true ambassador who still follows the origins of sporting tradition.
Kumar Sangakkara at his felicitation ceremony in Asgiriya
Fortune has always favored this great man’s soul. He is not only gifted but a blessed person. According to Lord Buddha if one believes in reincarnation, Sangakkara should be one of those rare people to born with wealth, caste, social respect, charisma, wisdom and appearance. In spite of having virtually everything in life he has always being an extremely down to earth character. At a felicitation held in his alma-mater after being appointed as captain, surprisingly Sangakkara kept on mentioning about the minor staff of Trinity College in his scintillating speech. He went on to say that not only because of his parents, coaches and teachers has he achieved this exceptional post but also due to the help of this minor staff. I am sure that as he groomed as a brilliant cricketer in Agiriya stadium, these people working on the grounds might have been tremendously helpful to him. Furthermore I witnessed Kumar Sangakkara hugging one of these minor staff persons who has been supportive while tears ran down his cheeks in absolute humility. Not so long ago these people were considered to be “untouchables” who were based in Mahaiyawa slums.
But that wasn’t a barrier for Sangakkara to ask this person whether he has forgotten his existence. In usual circumstances this could have been vise versa but Kumar Sangakkara is an extraordinary character who bends like ripened paddy.
Sangakkara once sported long hair. Of course MS Dhoni also had long hair but later on he admitted that he cut it short because he infact wanted to look like his favorite actor John Abraham. But Sangakkara’s reason to eventually cut his hair was different nevertheless far more valuable and philosophical than MS Dhoni’s. It was his old school master who has advised him to shorten it by emphasizing that there are thousands of youngsters who are looking up to him as a great role model. Kumar being humble as always obeyed the master’s instructions and sacrificed style and temptation for the betterment of his followers who regard him as an exemplary personality.
In the ICC World Cup 2007 finals against Australia in the middle of absolute carnage at the hands of Adam Gilchrist, he was genuine to signal the umpire that he hasn’t held on to a caught behind as the balled knocked on before carrying. To the naked eye it was impossible to pick.
This reflected the character of Sangakkara at the greatest stage. This is a glimpse of the inexplicable quality of this extraordinary gentleman. Winning and loosing is all part and parcel of the game but playing it in its true spirit and making a statement to the fact that great sportsmanship which all genuine sports enthusiast believe in, is far more superior. That intention alone will make Chokshanada Kumar Sangakkara a true ambassador and most of all an inspiring gentleman. Hats off to the great man.
Article Written By – Choliya Bandara (2010 Senior Prefect of Trinity College)
Published 7 years ago by Choliya Bandara