Sangakkara in Superlatives: Beyond the Boundary

Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph, 13 March 2015 – where there may be blog comments eventually: see

Kumar Sangakkara has rightfully received measured accolades as well as superlative praise from many a quarter for his unprecedented batting mastery marked through four World cup centuries in a row. Perhaps the most meaningful comments came during the early part of his innings at Bellerive Oval, Hobart when Mark Nicholas and Tom Moody referred to (1) his meticulous preparation and batting practice at the nets, (2) his Colin Cowdrey lecture and (3) his library of books and (4) an abiding interest in cultural artefacts which leads him to visit antique stores and bookshops in every which place.

This breadth of vision and acumen makes his sporadic, but not infrequent errors[1] in calling for runs all the more stark and unusual: not only because these errors signal a failure in assessment , but also because each error can make a difference between victory and defeat for his side.[2]

CRICKET-WC-2015-ENG-SRI  ARI RUN OUT Handy Andy: the Australians race to celebrate Andy Bichel’s run-out of Aravinda de Silva in their semi-final victory– Pic by Pat Scala

Kumar -SMH-AFP Kumar Sangakkara plays a shot straight out of the coaching manual en route to his double-century. Photo: AFP

But that was — and remains — only one reason why I wrote an essay on his “run-out madness” (encompassing a wider tendency in Sri Lankan cricket sides[3]). The intention behind that essay was to highlight the wider aspects of Sangakkara’s biography — in the manner Nicholas and Moody. Among these facets of his life journey I stressed not only his charity work, but his measures towards reconciliation across the Sinhala-Tamil divide. The friendship visit Kumar and his wife paid to St Patricks College in Jaffna city in April 2011 was particularly important in this line of work. I am pleased to record that since my run-out essays appeared several readers have been looking at this essay in THUPPAHI; while many more have delved into his parental background by reading the piece on Engeltine Cottage.[4]

These ‘visits’ encourage me: hopefully the readers will pay heed to the cross-ethnic and broad-ranging perspectives embodied in the history of the Sangakkara family; while those buried in ethnic prejudice will take stock and re-visit their thinking.[5] It is a measure of another form of prejudice that impassioned Sri Lankan cricket fans (pseudonyms hide their ethnic background in some cases[6]) in the web-site island-cricket simply could not comprehend the multiple intentions within my essay and pilloried me unmercifully for criticising Kumar and for straying beyond the boundary of the cricket field.

They should absorb the thoughts conveyed by such men of the world as Nicholas and Moody. Above, all they should heed the clever aphorism coined by the West Indian writer, CLR James: What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?


Select Bibliography

Andrew Fidel Fernando: “Sanga rules the North,”

Andrew Fidel Fernando: “Like a Kandyan Dancer,”

Michael Roberts: “Sangakkaras visit St. Patrick’s College, Jaffna,” 12 April 2011,

Michael Roberts:  “Kumar Sangakkara’s Ecumenical Lankan Nationalism,” 9 July 2011,

Michael Roberts: “Run-Out Cricket,” in Roberts, Essaying Cricket. Sri Lanka and Beyond, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2006, pp. 151-53.

Michael Roberts: “Engeltine Cottage in Kandy: The Intertwining of Three Families — Pieris, Sangakkara and Krishnapillai,” 4 April 2012,

Thuppahi: “Murali Harmony Cup serves the Northern Province and deploys Cricket in the Work of Reconciliation,” 8 September 2012,

Thuppahi: “Kumar and Mahela … Cricket and Reconciliation… Northern Empowerment … via Alison’s Tea Break,” 12 October 2012,

Thuppahi: “Unity Team” sponsored by Emirates to play cricket in Singapore and promote FOG’s work of reconciliation,” 16 October 2012,

Thuppahi:Project BEAP: Dr. Young and Strathmore Rotary forge a Major ‘Runway’ of Medical Relief in Lanka,” 4 February 2015,

Rohan R. Wasala: “To be Truly Lankan,” The Island, 9 July 2011.


ALSO SEE Michael Roberts: “The Ceylonese Origins of Sri Lankan Cricket,”


[1] During the recent tour of New Zealand different commentators referred to his fallibility in this sphere on a number of occasions.

[2] From my own experiences on the cricket field as well as watching numerous matches, I affirm that on the odd occasion a crass error in running or a brilliant piece of fielding that effects a run-out can electrify a fielding side and send shivers through the batting eleven in a manner that transforms a contest in favour of the fielding eleven. Since I drafted my original essay in, a friend in Adelaide reminded me of Sangakkara’s call for a run in the 2003 World Cup which saw Aravinda de Silva run out as one such moment. Yes, that is an example of an error, but on this occasion I would qualify the blame: (1) because it was in part due to a brilliant piece of fielding by the bowler Bichel and (2) Aravinda was slow to respond and not quite the speediest of runners then in 2003. A critical view would respond by noting that Sangakakra needed to take the latter aspect into account.

[3] See Michael Roberts: “Run-Out Cricket,” in Roberts, Essaying Cricket. Sri Lanka and Beyond, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2006, pp. 151-53.

[4] The article on Engeltine Cottage received 150 hits over the last week, while that on the Visit to St. Patricks received 24.

[5] Many Tamil families in the Kandy town area were sheltered by the Sangakkaras at Engeltine Cottage during the height of the horrid pogrom directed against Tamils residing in the locality in late July 1983.

[6] Thus see comments by yahapalanaya, Shanthan, Rahul, Zaid, Siri Sirisena, et cetera in



Filed under accountability, life stories, nationalism, performance, politIcal discourse, reconciliation, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes

2 responses to “Sangakkara in Superlatives: Beyond the Boundary

  1. Pingback: Kumar Sangakkara’s Reconciliatory Outreach across the Ethnic Divide: A Bibliography | Thuppahi's Blog

  2. Pingback: Cricketing Amity, September 2002: Janashakthi XI vs Jaffna District Cricket XI | Thuppahi's Blog

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