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People will miss Mahela & Sangakkara, says Murali

Mahela Jayawardene,Kumar Sangakkara

Calcutta/Dhaka: World cricket will be poorer with Sri Lankan greats Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara deciding not to play all the formats. Having announced on Sunday that he would retire from T20 Internationals after the World T20, Sangakkara on Monday said that he would also like to call time on his ODI career after the 2015 World Cup, to be held in Australia and New Zealand.

Mahela, on the other hand, too has decided to quit T20 Internationals after the World T20. Interestingly, Mahela’s’s decision was announced not by the cricketer, but by the International Cricket Council (ICC), that too on Twitter. “SL legend @MahelaJay to join @KumarSanga2 in T20I retirement after the #wt20 2014,” a tweet from the ICC said.

While many would feel that Mahela and Sangakkara were good enough to play in all the formats for a few more years, Muttiah Muralidharan, who was a teammate to both the players for a long time, however feels that they have taken the right decision.

“Mahela and Sangakkara are two of the most experienced players in the Sri Lankan team. But I would say that they have made the right decision. They are past 35 now, so they would want to give the youngsters enough time to settle in the team… They have done a great job for Sri Lankan cricket and both are champion batsmen. There’s no doubt that people will miss them. But at the end of the day, cricket will progress… That’s way it is,” Murali said on the sidelines of a cricket camp — Vision 2020 — an initiative of the Cricket Association of Bengal.

He added: “It’s always a player’s own decision when to retire… I knew when it was the time for me to retire… So, likewise, they also know when it is right for them to retire.”

Like Murali, Pakistan great Waqar Younis, who too is a consultant at the camp, being held at the JU Salt Lake campus ground, feels that it’s entirely up to the players to decide when to call it a day. “Both Mahela and Sangakkara are great players… There’s no doubt about it. They are perfect role models for the youngsters… Both technically and professionally… It’s completely upon them to decide how long they want to play… So whatever they have decided, in the end it’s their decision,” Waqar said.

Sangakkara himself feels that it’s a “natural progression”.

“As far as ODI and Test cricket are concerned, it’s hard to make a time frame. I am 36 years old now and will be 37 next year during the time of World Cup. By the next World Cup, I will be 41 and I don’t want to be playing then. So the 2015 World Cup will be my last. It’s a kind of natural progression,” Sangakkara said in Dhaka. “For Test cricket, form, fitness and enjoyment factors are there for you to continue… There is no denying I am at the twilight of my career,” he added.

Sangakkara, though, felt that Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal can carry forward the Mahela-Sangakkara legacy.

“I think it’s going to be fine… If you look at Thirimanne and Chandimal, they are ready to play in any form of cricket. I think that if Mahela and I decide to quit today, tomorrow or whenever we do, it’s not going to make a huge difference.

“Angelo Mathews is maturing as the Test and ODI captain. Dinesh is also a young captain. Sri Lankan cricket is in very good hands,” said the man who has played 122 Tests, 369 ODIs and 50 T20 Internationals.

According to Sangakkara, the key to success is to withstand the rigours of international cricket for a long time. “The key is to refine talent and make the players ready to withstand the pressures of international cricket. And it’s not just for one or two years, but for longer periods,” he said.