The King Talks to us

Here it is.

King Sanga.

The Flyslip.

The sit down. Uh – huh.

Ps- Dont worry, all your questions have been answered too. They are coming shortly.

1)With regards to the Pakistan attacks, in particular about the much talked about security arrangement. Was the security detail any different on that 3rd day? As compared to the rest of the tour ? Had anyone raised any concerns about the security provided prior to the attacks (during the tour I mean) ?

The security detail was much less in Lahore than Karachi. We were thinking and talking among ourselves about the fact that the security provided us was not “head of state” but didnt voice it to Pakistan officials. Lahore had riots a day before we arrived there and lax security in our travel convoy was a surprise. On the 3rd day the security detail was even less than other days as the Pakistan team bus was delayed and security was split between us and them

2)There seems to be many stories coming out regarding, last minute changes to the bus route(to the stadium) and the Pakistani team leaving after the SL team, when they(two buses) usually leave together.

In hindsight, do you or any of the other players now feel that something was off on that particular day?

We had no idea of last minute changes to travel routine. We just knew that we were travelling ahead of the Pakistan bus. We got to know later of the mysterious phone call to change route. In hindsight there was something off during the whole tour with regard to security and the levels promised and actually delivered

3)At what point did you first make contact with your wife after the attack? Could you run us through what she was feeling and what was said?

I contacted my wife first after about 5 minutes of entering the stadium dressing room after the attack. I spoke to her and told her that we were shot at but not to worry that we were ok. She then asked me how i was and i said i was fine and wasnt injured. She then asked me to keep in touch every few minutes and hung up. I then phoned my mother and told her the story and also told her that i was injured but not badly and not to tell Yehali. By that time news was carrying reports of my injury so my wife called and asked me if i was actually ok. Then i told her of my injury. She got upset but managed to stay calm as Samaraweera’s wife had rushed to our home seeking more info

4)The fall out of the attack has been swift, already players are worried about the IPL and touring the Subcontinent. Are you worried at all about going to India now ? What would you want now, as a player, to feel safe about going to India or any other ‘dangerous’ country?

Security will now become a priority. It has been so for many teams like England, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and India in the past years and they have had professional procedures in place to ensure security. Sri Lanka has been lagging well behind in proper security assesments for the cricket team touring away from home and we will now have to rethink. We will need independent and expert security assessments done and reports provided bfore accepting tours. The same for any tour including IPL. Players will also take more decisions individually along with their families rather than as a team with regard to security

5)Do you fear for the future of cricket in the Subcontinent (In India, Pakistan, SL and BD) (especially if there was to be another terror attack in any one of these countries, even if it not cricket related)?

The future of cricket or any sport is threatened everywhere in the world if security measures are not put in place. Terror attacks in any country which seems more and more the norm would endanger sport

6)Getting back to cricket, now that you have been appointed captain of SL, The question on everyones mind is, what would Kumar Sangakkara do differently as Captain (if given the job)? Do you have any specific goals or agenda for the team?

My difference in leading the side would be that I would bring my perspective to bear on team strategy and planning a lot more. I have seen eye to eye with past captains on many issues, especially with Mahela, but I have to now find what works best for me and the team. I’m a great believer in individual player development. Players if asked to work more on their own and think more for themselves, the burden of captaining evry aspect of the team disappears. Captaincy is mainly while fielding and making right choices then and at all other times getting the best out of your players. Captain is always only as good as his troops and must ensure that players in the team are given every facility to become supremely competent in their chosen skill and performances and improvement are demanded from them everyday

7)Cricket is all about partnerships and your one with Mahela, as captain and vice captain was a very close one. What made you both get along so well? Would Mahela always seek your approval?

Our partnership worked well as a result of the fact we never tread on each others toes. Our roles were clearly defined. My role was to support him fully in matters of field setting, driving players, player discussions and, if needed, in selection and strategy. I always think the captain should ask for support from his deputy and not approval. And also, when it is needed, a captain should welcome feedback and information but ultimately make instant decisions by jhimself. We also knew each other closely for years and it helped a lot.

8)How do you, as a cricketer, address allegations that cricketers now care more about money or playing in the IPL than playing for the country ?

This a load of nonsense. The reality of sport seems to escape most Sri Lankan pundits when it comes to cricket. Just look around the world and wake up. Sport is commercial and it has to be a business otherwise the very sport cannot be sustained. Sport is also professional. If we are to earn our living through it it obviously follows that we will be paid…how much depends on market forces. Look at all other sportsmen in the world: Sri Lankan pundits overlook their commercial power in terms of advertising and earnings, but seem to criticize same locally. W.G. Grace was the first cricketer to advertise a product. We have cricketres being best in the world being paid one tenth what cricketers of far less quality are paid in other similar countries. Although the money earned by our board is huge, and on par with other boards, still we play and we perform. We try to do an honest days work and earn an honest living. Our careers are not long and we dont have pensions. What we earn now, unless we have a fall back plan, will have to last us through the rest of our lives. That is the reality. Your career could be over in a flash through being dropped or injured or any number of things. I play cricket to play great. My motivation is to be among the best when I retire. I want to score 10,000 runs in both formats and have 30 test hundreds. Money can’t buy that. At the end of the day you earn benefits because you perform. If you don’t you may earn benefits for a while but will be dropped or ommitted. If you focus only on money you will naturally lose performance and will be weeded out. I know my team and they play with passion and pride. I cannot say the same about others, past players included, who sit in their high chairs and lecture.

9)What are your views on the new refferal system? Any suggestions for improvement?

The referral system is a good addition to the game but needs a lot of fine tuning. Who makes the decision is it the 3rd umpire or does he feed information to the on field umpire to make his own. Is the technology a 100% correct? What technology should be used. Is the process of the captain signaling done properly and fast enough? Or do you leave it to the umpires to ask for a referral if they think it necessary. These in my view are the issues and should be addressed quickly and thoroughly.

10)If you had the power to change 3 things about world cricket right now, what would they be ?

-Day night cricket would stop and it would all day or all night,

-A lot more direct player input in to the policy of the ICC, and

-The recognition of all players associations by cricket boards of every country.


  1. Jonas Hodges said:

    looking forward to the rest… good stuff aiya… can’t wait till we get a international game to see him lead… have to wait a long time :S

    March 30, 2009
  2. Ceci said:

    Riveting stuff Damith – from the doubts about security to the views on the referral system – and there’s more to come? Terrific

    March 31, 2009
  3. miriam said:

    Great work Damith – I found this a fascinating piece and am looking forward to the next instalment. Thanks to King Kumar for his frank, intelligent insights.

    March 31, 2009
  4. Sachintha said:

    “I cannot say the same about others, past players included, who sit in their high chairs and lecture.”

    LOL… I can see where it was directed… 😀

    March 31, 2009
  5. Pete said:

    I reckon Sanga will head the ICC one day, I hope so.

    March 31, 2009
  6. shine said:

    hahaha…that money questioned seemed to piss him off lol..but a good and fair answer though. I too wonder sometimes how patriotic are these so called journalists in sri lanka who keep on questioning players and their love for the country.

    March 31, 2009
  7. shine said:

    btw, looks like he has changed his mind..before he has said that his goal was to get 20 test he has increased it to 30. good on ya sanga!!

    March 31, 2009
  8. Ishan said:

    Great Interview.. I totally agree to what sanga said about the IPL issue.. looking forward to the next part!

    March 31, 2009
  9. scorpicity said:

    Lovely stuff by the king on 7 and 8. Good work Damith… cheers

    March 31, 2009
  10. damith said:

    Thanks guys and girls-

    Glad you enjoyed it, I certainly did too ! Some good insights from The King.

    Cant wait to see him lead SL.

    April 1, 2009
  11. Vivek said:

    Thanks damith for the interview………..yea….m eagerly awaiting to see him lead …..i have this sneeking feeling he may just trun out to be the one of he best captains after Mike Bearly.

    April 1, 2009
  12. Amy said:

    Great interview. I love the suggestion of all night cricket, hehe. I’m in favour of anything that promotes zombie cricketers.

    How was this interview conducted?

    April 1, 2009
  13. minu said:

    yah,someday Sanga will b da head of ICC even.Coz he has da talent 4 it!

    September 1, 2009

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