Sangakkara has been Sri Lanka’s greatest ever player - Paul Farbrace

EXCLUSIVE: Paul Farbrace paid tribute to Kumar Sangakarra who retires from Test cricket after the 2nd Test against India in Galle by classing him as the greatest ever Sri Lanka player.

Paul Farbrace when coach at Yorkshire

Farbrace, the current assistant coach with England, had two stints coaching the Sri Lanka national side. Between July 2007 and July 2009 he was assistant coach to Trevor Bayliss and then returned as head coach for a short but very successful stint between December 2013 and April 2014.

He knows Sangakkara well and would trust him with his life…

“If I had to pick a batsman in world cricket to bat for my life I would pick him every single time,” Farbrace said. “In all forms of the game, in all conditions, I think he has been Sri Lanka’s greatest player.

“There were times when I’ve swayed between him and Mahela (Jayawardene) because they are both such quality players and they are people that you want in your team. The pair of them have been absolutely brilliant. Both during my periods there and other times.

“Murali would have a lot to say about being their greatest ever player, but in terms of batsmen I think even Arjuna Ranatunge and everyone who’s ever batted in Sri Lanka, I think, would point at Sanga as their greatest ever player.

“Mahaela wouldn’t be very far behind at all and if you asked Mahela, he’d say Sanga, and if you asked Sanga, he’s say Mahela. They are best mates, but their rivalry has also pushed one another. When one’s got a hundred it was amazing how often the other one got a hundred. If one had a great series and the other didn’t you could pretty much guarantee the other one would have a great series in the next. I think that their friendly rivalry always pushed the pair of them on.


It’s been his consistency

“I think his consistency is the biggest thing. The fact he’s consistent with everything he does - consistent with his practice. behaviour and his performance, I think that’s his greatest trait,

“He’s exceptionally hardworking - probably the most hardworking professional cricketer I’ve ever come across - methodical, well organised and a real student of the game. And understands and knows the game around the world.

Sanga deserves a great send off

“The fact that Mahela’s here (in the UK) at the moment and flies back on Monday to Sri Lanka to be there for Sanga’s last game sums the pair of them up really,” Farbrace commented. “They are great blokes, great friends and they have been fantastic servants to Sri Lankan cricket, on and off the field.

“They’ve done nothing but give their best to Sri Lankan cricket and the people of Sri Lanka.

“They know they they were representing their country, they’re representing fellow Sri Lankans and they’ll do all they can to make a success of it. That speaks volumes for the pair of them.”

Sanga is an all-time great

“He gets runs in all forms of the game because he thinks about the game and understands the game and he’s worked out and knows the people that he’s playing against. His professionalism to his sport and to his craft is unbelievable.”

Performs in Tests and One-Day

“That’s why you can call him a true great of world cricket. You think back to his fifty in the Twenty20 World Cup Final. He hadn’t got a run in the whole series, but we knew he was the man for the big game.

“He loves the big stage. He played brilliantly in that final, England last year he played well - desperate to get a century at Lord’s - he got that

“When there’s a big game on, he’s the man you want in your corner because the bigger the stage, the bigger the game, the better he plays. That’s the biggest compliment you could pay him I reckon.”

A great man

“He’s got a great sense of humour and one of the most intelligent people you’ll meet. He’s a pain in the arse in that he’s always right, but he’s a nice pain in the arse!

“He’s a great man, he’s a good team person, he looks after the young players, he looks after the coaches and he wants things done properly. If you work hard and you work well with him then he’s a great man.

“He puts the team first and country first and is a very proud Sri Lankan who wants his team to do well. He wants his team to win but equally he keeps things in perspective and he knows it’s a game and he knows what Sri Lanka has been through, certainly in the last 25 years or so, to get where they’ve got to.

“He’s very patriotic and fiercely proud of everybody associated with Sri Lanka as a country.

“He’s a world class cricketer and a world class bloke and I’ve said that about Kumar and Mahaela. When Sri Lanka start to take the field without those two I think they will really realise what they’ve lost.”

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James Buttler

James Buttler

James has been working as a cricket journalist and broadcaster since 2006.
As the editor of Cricket Badger he is intent on building the website to give quality coverage of the domestic game around the world.
James was the full-time Media Manager at Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 2007 and 2010.
James is a published author and a writer/video contributor to many cricket publications.
He's unsurprisingly a complete cricket badger!
James Buttler

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