Kumar Sangakkara has promised Sri Lanka will show plenty of positive intent at the Rose Bowl as they seek to keep their good record against England intact.
Victory for the tourists in the third Test would give them a share of the series spoils and leave England without a Test series win over Sri Lanka since 2002.
Sangakkara, who admits he was reluctant to stand in as captain for the Test after Tillakaratne Dilshan was ruled out by a broken thumb, insists that Sri Lanka’s approach needs to reflect that proud record.
“The real opportunity is to tie the Test series, so the way we play has to reflect that,” he said on Wednesday.
“Whether you lose 1-0 or 2-0 you’ve still lost a series, but if we scrap and perform the way we can, we have the opportunity to tie the series.
“We need to show no fear and be as positive as we can, but at the same time execute all we’ve spoken about properly on the field, to try and help us win a Test match.”
Sangakkara admitted that Dilshan’s absence is a “significant loss” both in the batting and leadership departments, and confirmed that he had needed some time to decide whether he was willing to take on captaincy duties once again.
The left-handed batsman relinquished the role in the wake of Sri Lanka’s defeat in the World Cup final and admits that captaining Sri Lanka “is a job that ages you very quickly”.
He had been eager to focus solely on his batting – something he did on the weekend when Thilan Samaraweera took the reins for a tour match against Essex – and is adamant that he will not lead his country in the one-day internationals if Dilshan’s injury keeps him out of action beyond the Test at the Rose Bowl.
“When I was first approached to captain the side I wasn’t ready to take it on, because the fact was I had given it up, with a view of having finished my role as captain after two successful years,” said Sangakkara.
“Unfortunately there was no vice-captain appointed for this Test series, so the side was left in a bit of a problem with no-one to step in to captain.
“So with a lot of deep thought and considering the needs of the side and the country, I decided to say yes to captaining Sri Lanka again for a final time in this Test.”
Sangakkara maintained that he was very proud of his achievements as captain, but felt that the responsibilities of the job are so heavy that no-one could carry them for very long.
“I actually made my decision to resign a month or two before the World Cup,” he said. “Looking from the outside in, it’s sometimes difficult to fathom why a decision like that could be made, but once you’re in the team, and in that environment, you realise that captaining Sri Lanka is a job that ages you very quickly. But that’s a challenge of the job as well. You say yes to the job knowing full well the challenges you will face.
“It’s rarely a job you will last long in. Mahela Jayawardene was a fantastic captain for us for two years, and he also resigned.
“I also had a two-year stint, and I enjoyed it at times, certainly on the field where our results showed we were one of the top two sides in the world for one-and-a-half years, especially in the shorter form of the game. We reached three World Cup finals in a four-year period, two in 50-overs, one in the Twenty20 format, and we beat Australia in Australia after 26 years.
“The achievements are huge,” he added. “On the field, Sri Lankan cricket has been one of the most positive advertisements of our country for a very long time. We have produced world-class players, world-class teams, and World Cup-winning teams.
“I think the health of Sri Lanka cricket is very good and cricket itself is very strong. But when I stepped down from the captaincy, I thought I was done with it, but I was clearly wrong! I’m back for one last time.”Cricket365