It's not everyday that a famous cricketer comes to your school. I had heard the rumours but I didn't quite believe them until I saw the banner in the school entrance one sunny Tuesday morning, 4th March. Kumar Sangakkara, the Lankan wicketkeeper and ex-captain, really doesn't need introductions. He and the team manager and coach had come to Sunbeams to talk to the students, especially the school cricket team.
Beamers from every class were bewildered. Sangakkara was welcomed with a bouquet of flowers and the excited screams of 700 voices. As he started to speak, the whole audience murmured a delighted, “Aww.” Ms Munize Manzur conducted the interview. Sangakkara answered all the questions patiently.
Since fifth grade, Sangakkara played five different sports. He was a swimmer too. Only from the age of 19 did he drop everything else to take cricket seriously. “What made you realise it would be cricket all along?” He spoke with fluidity, “I realised what I wanted from cricket at a ripe age, compared to most cricketers; they know that they want to be involved in the sport before anything else. I still don't know what it was that made me choose. But my coaches and managers, and especially my team players have kept me going. I think I've made the right decision.”
Turns out Sangakkara was an all-rounder. During his school years, he was a player and a braniac. To the common question “Why do we need algebra in cricket?” he said, “It's not just cricket but anything in general. Everyone needs to study. Cricket isn't my whole life, just a big chunk of it. I play now, but what'll happen after I retire? That's why we study, to become professionals.” He talked about how the sports we enjoy playing shouldn't become what we are. There is more out there that needs to be discovered, and allowing sports to occupy all that just isn't the way. Excel in sports, but excel in academics and other interests too.
“How do you handle the insane amount of pressure, don't you get exhausted from it all?” He answered with a smile, “I'm honoured just to represent my country, my team. It is my duty, and I'm so happy to know that people expect such big things from me. I'm just trying to give back what's due.” When asked why he stepped down from captaincy, he said, “My time as a captain was over, I knew. But being captain wasn't necessarily being the leader. There's more to being a leader. Like during our last match, Lasith Malinga was our leader -- he took charge in shaky times and gave us our victory.”
Sangakkara spared a few tips for the school team, gave autographs, took photos. His favourite food from this trip was the local mutton curry. “What was your favourite moment during this trip?” and he overwhelmed the audience with, “Honestly, it was this trip to your school.”