Whenever the talk comes about the greatest batsman of all time, it always ends up with the names of Bradman, Lara, Sachin and many more. But rarely the names of Sri Lankans like Jayawardene and Sangakkara have been included, inspite of a being in top ten run-getters in both the formats of the game. But, the exclusion of Sangakkara is more surprising, since his record away from home is better than that of most of his Sri Lankan counterparts. Is it really that Sangakkara isn’t just in the league of the Sachins and Bradmans? Or is it that he always remains under the shadows of the eyes of critics and fans alike?
As a batsman, Sangakkara is possibly one of the most technically sound southpaw since Lara. Possessed with a God-like cover drive, Sangakkara’s gameplay is a delight to watch, especially considering that he is a left hander. Other left hander’s on-par to his achievements including Graeme Smith and Shivnarine Chanderpaul have really dodgy techniques.
But the real image he has amongst fans is that of a “minnow-basher/ flat track bully”, considering his incredible record against minnows and in sub-continent pitches.
The above stat summary clearly indicates his batting style.
- As expected, he has scored heavily against Pakistan and Bangladesh, even at their own backyard. He has good averages against West Indies, India and New Zealand, but it comes down drastically when it comes to scoring in the foriegn conditions. His record against England is absymal, considering a batsman of his stature.
- His away average stands at a healthy 51.55, having scored 4331 runs. But considering that about 2000 runs have come in the sub continent, it is quite below par. And over that, his average in England, West Indies, South Africa and India comes down to 30s, which is below par.
This doesn’t end here.
His best years have come either when he plays against subcontinent counterparts or the majority of matches played in home conditions. Yes, considering that Former Sri Lankan players have really struggled in pacy and bouncy pitches, it is a really good record that Sangakkara holds currently. But it is meagre compared to the likes of Sachin’s and Ponting’s. Sachin usually saved his best against the best at testing conditions, whereas Ponting’s only achilles heel is his record in India.
This is just a brief study of Sangakkara’s record against other countries. Other factors have been discluded such as quality of bowling, the T20 impact on the playing style, and many more. In short, inspite of his tremendous average and record, he will be called as one of the greats, but not amongst the greatest.
by Kaushik Narayanan
*stats from cricinfo