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Kumar Sangakkara’s elevation to MCC presidency:

Cricket scores again

Kumar Sangakkara’s first connection with MCC was playing against them in 2002 for the touring Sri Lankans in a first-class match at Queen’s Park, Chesterfield.
Kumar Sangakkara’s first connection with MCC was playing against them in 2002 for the touring Sri Lankans in a first-class match at Queen’s Park, Chesterfield.

At a time when the country is reeling under the threat of suicide bombers it is the game of cricket that is keeping the Sri Lankan flag flying high once again.

Even at the height of the ‘Eelam’ war our cricketers went onto win the World Cup in 1996 and continued to keep the country’s proud traditions intact in the eyes of the world by reaching the World Cup finals in no less than on two other occasions in the fifty-over format and, on three instances in the World T20 format winning the title once in 2014.

It was the game of cricket and the success of our cricketers that made the public forget the atrocities of the war and its consequences and allowed them to lead a normal life focusing their energies on the achievements of the national team.

Now during the time of the Easter Sunday bombings from which the country is gradually trying to recover from comes the delightful news that Kumar Sangakkara, the gentleman of Sri Lanka cricket has been nominated by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) to become their next president. It is largely an honour bestowed on those who have given great service to cricket as player or administrator or both.

If anyone deserves to be so highly recognized it is none other than Sangakkara for he has set such high standards not only as a cricketer but outside it as well to become a true ambassador of Sri Lanka.

Sangakkara will take over as MCC president from current president Anthony Wreford on October 1. 2019 and will serve for a period of one year till September 30, 2020. His tenure will include a busy year at Lord’s next summer, with two England Test Matches against West Indies and Pakistan and the launch of The Hundred competition.

“Anyone who has scored over 10,000 runs in both Tests and ODIs is clearly a special cricketer. Many members first witnessed his off-field thinking and contribution when he delivered the 2011 MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture. The following year he was named both ICC Cricketer of the Year and one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year,” said Wreford.

“As MCC looks to broaden both our horizons and international reputation, I’m delighted that Kumar has accepted the invitation, which he did in January this year, to be the next President of MCC. He is an outstanding individual both on and off the field and will make a huge contribution to the Club. In a World Cup and Ashes year, he will also have a significant role to play as President Designate.”

What is so unique about Sangakkara’s appointment is that he will become the first non-British president of the MCC which has a history dating back to 1787.

Past MCC presidents which number more than 200 include such exalted names like Sir Pelham Warner, Gubby Allen, Peter May, Tony Lewis, Mike Brearley, Freddie Brown, Colin Cowdrey, Ted Dexter, Tom Graveney (the first professional cricketer to be elected to the office), Mike Gatting, Derek Underwood, Roger Knight, Arthur Gilligan, Doug Insole, Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie, Dennis Silk, Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Alec Douglas-Home, Billy Griffith to name a few. To be in their elite company is what dreams are made of.

Sangakkara’s connections with MCC go back a long way having played against them in 2002 opening the batting for the touring Sri Lankans in a first-class match at Queen’s Park, Chesterfield. He also played for MCC against an International XI at Lord’s in the 2005 Tsunami Relief Match. Proceeds from that match were used by the Foundation of Goodness to set up the MCC Centre of Excellence at Seenigama in Sri Lanka.

On the Lord’s Honours Boards Sangakkara’s name appears twice with both innings coming in 2014. He scored 147 in the drawn Test match against England and hit 112 in the One-Day International victory over the same opposition. In 2016 he was bestowed with the honour of ringing the bell at Lord’s at the start of the Test match between Sri Lanka and England. The MCC further immortalised Sangakkara by commissioning paintings of him and fellow Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene, which were unveiled in 2017.

But more than all this it was Sangakkara’s powerful and memorable MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture in 2011 that won him several accolades worldwide although it didn’t go down too well with some members of Sri Lanka Cricket’s hierarchy.

In 2012, he was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the MCC and the same year, he joined MCC’s World Cricket committee and to-date remains an active member. Thus being heavily involved with MCC, Sangakkara’s elevation to the highest echelons of the club comes as no surprise.

Knowing his brilliant track record Sangakkara no doubt will certainly live to the traditions of MCC and maintain their high standards, if not improve it.

 


 

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