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Not the perfect fairy tale finish as one might expect

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SYDNEY: Two of the modern day greats of Sri Lanka cricket Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene bid adieu to their one-day international careers when their country’s World Cup campaign ended with a nine-wicket defeat to South Africa in a quarter-final match played at the SCG on Wednesday.
It was not the perfect way to see these two legends off but as it has been proved over the years the World Cup is hardly the platform for fairy tale finishes, and so it proved.

The Lankan team under the leadership of Angelo Mathews had worked very hard towards making this a memorable World Cup to the two icons, but they could not repeat their feat of last year at Dhaka when they gave Sangakkara and Jayawardene a perfect send off from T20 internationals by winning the trophy.
Perhaps it was asking too much from the team to write another perfect script, but they at least made the effort and were never short of commitment towards trying to achieve that goal.

“If we don’t do well, it’s nothing to do with the commitment the boys have. If you see the practices, the dressing room atmosphere, it’s been brilliant. Everyone has been doing their work. Everyone’s been pulling their shift, so you can’t complain about that. It’s about going out there and enjoying ourselves, and if it’s not good enough, it’s not good enough,” was how Jayawardene summarised his team’s lead up to the quarter-finals.

As true sportsmen the two legends did not make heavy weather of the defeat but took it in their stride that it was part and parcel of the game, although deep inside they would have felt the disappointment.

“I'm pretty happy with the decision I've made. I've tried to give everything I have when I've played the game, and the game goes on. You can't hold onto it and people shouldn't be too sentimental,” said Sangakkara.

“I love the support that they've given me over the years, and I've become a lot better person and a player because of that support and love, but at the end of the day, I think a lot better players and greater players have gone, and the game has gone on and there are new players who take the mantle, and in my case it won't be any different. Disappointments are a part of our career, and you just take it on the chin and move on.”

Jayawardene said, “I'll probably wake up a bit late tomorrow for a change. I will miss it but that's reality, you know that the time is right for you to leave and I've enjoyed every bit of it, it's been great playing with all these guys, had some great friendships - no regrets.”

Both stalwarts are confident that Sri Lanka cricket is in good hands and that the players coming through are good enough to fill their shoes and move on.
“We have a lot of people in the dressing room who would have learned a lot from this World Cup, and that'll stand them in good stead going forward. Personally I've had a great time playing with these boys,” said Sangakkara.

“The team is in great hands. Angelo Mathews has been such an impressive leader right throughout. I think Dilshan might be playing a few more seasons for Sri Lanka, and we've had Thirimanne who's really come into great strides. Every single time he plays he looks more and more impressive. We've had a few injuries this tour, but if you look at the players we have, you can't but be positive about the future.”

Paying a glowing tribute to his long time mate Jayawardene who with this tournament will retire from all formats of the game internationally, Sangakkara said, “It's been a great privilege. He's been, along with Aravinda de Silva, an exceptional player for Sri Lanka who's scored a lot of runs. He's made a hundred in a lot of victories, and he's given a lot on and off the field to the country.

“He's going to be sorely missed. You know, he can look back again and really appreciate what he's been given by the country, the support he's been given, but also what he's given back. I'm sure he's going to be thoroughly disappointed today, but also, sometimes there is a bit of relief, as well, when your career ends. The high-pressure situations, the warm-ups, the ice baths, the recovery sessions, all of that repeated over 16, 17 years can get a bit much. But like I said, time to look at other things and other aspects of life.”

Sangakkara will continue to play Test cricket till August before he too will follow Jayawardene into retirement. Personally, he’s had a fantastic World Cup being the leading run-getter of the 2015 tournament with 541 runs (avg. 108.20) and four centuries, the most any player has scored in a World Cup competition.


South African captain AB de Villiers bids goodbye to the two Sri Lankan legends Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

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