One of the finest batsmen of his, or any, generation, Kumar Sangakkara has been at the forefront of Sri Lankan cricket since his debut in 2000.
A languid, stylish left-hander, he first appeared aged 22 as a wicket-keeping all-rounder in an ODI against Pakistan in Galle, before progressing seamlessly into the Test side later that month against South Africa.
He quickly established a reputation for belligerent yet graceful batting while his chirpy, assured presence behind the stumps reflected the post-1996 world-cup confidence present in Sri Lanka’s cricket.
Sangakkara’s batting has grown in stature as his career progressed, particulary since he abandoned the gloves in the longest form of the game in 2006, since when he has regularly been ranked the top Test batsman.
He has developed a penchant for Test match double-centuries, where he stands 3rd on the all-time list with eight. Only Brian Lara and Don Bradman have more.
One of the finest batsmen of his, or any, generation
The highest (a mammoth 287) came against South Africa in 2006 as part of a world record stand of 624 with close friend and fellow batting stalwart Mahela Jayawardene.
In early 2009 he was part of the Sri Lanka side who ambushed by terrorists while traveling to play against Pakistan in Lahore. Six of his teammates were injured, while eight others involved lost their lives.
Captaincy of the national side came his way later that year, where one of his first acts was to lead the side to the final of the ICC World Twenty20, where they lost to Pakistan at Lord’s.
Similar heartache was to follow in 2011 when India overcame Sangakkara’s men in the World Cup final in Mumbai. Sangakkara resigned the captaincy following the defeat.
A law graduate, he has also developed a reputation as one of the most articulate and charismatic characters in the game.
In 2011 he delivered a stunning, impassioned MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture on Sri Lankan cricket which made headlines around the world, discussing issues from surviving the Lahore attacks to the problems with cricket administration in his country.