Kumar Sangakkara, an elegant stroke player, a reliable wicket-keeper, a postive thinker, was the cornerstone of Sri Lankan cricket for nearly 15 years. After playing close to 500 international games for his country, the all-time great cricketer played his final game in a Test against India at Colombo in 2015.
The farewell was certainly not an easy one. The Sri Lankan cricket was not only followed by Lankan fans but he was equally loved by every cricket fan around the world.
Here’s his heart-touching farewell speech:
Your excellency, the President of Sri Lanka, the honourable Prime Minister, Members of Parliament, all the well wishers and the invitees, fans, all my friends, my family – who are all here, which is a rare occasion that all of us are together – Virat Kohli and the Indian team, Angelo and my team, I have got so many people to thank here.
I will start off with my school – Trinity College, Kandy. Trinity College gave me a fantastic ground there in Kandy. It was an amazing school to go to. I owe a lot of who I am today to the grounding and foundation I got there. To all my coaches – I had so many because my father used to take me to so many coaches when I was young – a big thank you.
To all my past captains, to Sri Lanka Cricket, to all my team-mates, thank you very much for everything that you’ve done for me. The support that I received, the inspiration, the drive and the commitment you have shown, not just to the game but also to each other and to me, I value all very, very highly. I am going to miss all that chat we had in the dressing room.
To Charlie and Suthami Austin, thank you very much for managing me. You’ve become much more than managing, you’ve become family. I know I haven’t thanked you enough in the past but today I’d like to say a huge thank you to Charlie and Suthami for being friends and being my managers and most of all for making me the godfather of your beautiful children.
I didn’t have to look far for inspiration (gets emotional). My parents are here. I didn’t have to look far. I had amazing siblings. I am blessed with a wonderful family. I was blessed to be born as your children. When I look up at the box, people that I’ve known for 30 years, friends, family, everyone is here and to see that they love me is great and it will be my greatest achievement.
Lot of people ask me who inspired me and I always say I didn’t have to look far for inspiration. I am sorry I don’t want to embarrass you too much, but I didn’t have to look far from my home for inspiration because I have the most amazing parents that anyone could wish for.
I had amazing siblings and all the support, the love that they showed over the years, whether I played cricket or not, whether I did well or not, the only place I could go and feel safe was home and thank you ‘amma’ (mother) and ‘apachchi’ (father). Thank you.
It’s been one of the most special privileges of my life to play in front of the Sri Lankan people and Sri Lankan fans. I’m especially thankful to your love and support. My innings has ended. I won’t play international cricket again. But I’ll come with you Khettarama, to Galle, to Tamil Union, and to SSC to watch the young cricketers play.
To Virat and his team, thank you most of all for the wonderful cricket that you’ve played. I can’t ask for anything more than tough cricket when I’m leaving and you guys over the years have been our toughest opponents.
We’ve planned to beat you, we have at times and at other times we have failed, but thank you so much for putting in that effort. It doesn’t matter whether we lost today, we will try to beat you again in the next game, but thank you for the toughness, thank you for giving no quarter, and thank you for really making it a privilege of mine to play against you.
And to Angelo and the team… Angie you’ve got an amazing team, you’ve got an amazing future and I just hope you will work hard and enjoy this sport, this sport we only play for a short times. It comes and goes, 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 and the flag flying high.