Sri Lankan star Kumar Sangakkara speaks about watching the action from the sidelines as also the corporate culture of the billion dollar league.
Injury has forced Punjab King's XI wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara to watch the last few games from the dugout. But the man who is known to be one of international cricket's most articulate speakers has his ears to the ground when it comes to issues that have cropped up in the inaugural Indian Premier League. In conversation with The Indian Express, he speaks about watching the action from the sidelines as also the corporate culture of the billion dollar league.
Was it tough to sit out?
Yes, it is very tough especially when you have been playing continuously for many years. But it was exciting too, since for the first time I saw a bunch of youngsters perform. Marsh has been exceptional and so was Jayawardene. Yuvraj has returned to form, while Sreesanth and Pathan have been consistent. At times my respect for these players gets doubled when I see them perform on the ground.
Does playing for a franchise mean pressure to get fit as early as possible?
No, I don't think so. All players want to get fit as soon as possible but once a player is injured he needs to be careful. Because at the end of the day, no player wants to sit out, be it playing for franchise or for his country.
Are franchisees adding to the pressure to perform?
In sport, there is a win-loss factor. But in the corporates and in the modern world there is demand for win-win. Corporates, at times, fail to understand that in sport you win sometimes, and lose at others. But I think some day they will understand sport much better. The players too need to understand that it is the performance that counts, be it playing for franchise or for country. If you don't perform, you will be dropped.
Is it wrong to expect players to perform in each match?
Look, I don't see anything wrong in a franchise's expectations from its team or players. Players need to understand that they are paid employees and after all it's their job to go out there and perform. You can relate this to work done by an employee in an office as he is expected to come up with a good show daily. For a franchise, it will take a while to get things right.
With so much money in IPL, will it distract youngsters?
It all depends on the individual and their family background. We need to realize that IPL is not the last thing. Country comes first. And when it comes to distractions, they vary from individual to individual, and how they take things. You can take the example of Murali and Tendulkar. Both are legends in cricket but their feet are on the ground. It shows that they have strong values and success has not gone to their heads. Youngsters, who are sharing dressing rooms with such players, should learn more than cricketing skills from them.
Is Jayasuriya - who is playing for Mumbai Indians - the biggest threat to your side ?
Yes he is, because if Sanath sticks around for the initial five overs, he can do magic with the bat. He is explosive, and it's always fun to watch him play.
With Tom Moody and Jayawardene in the side, do you have the mantra to dismiss Jayasuriya ?
We can try millions of tips and even I have seen teams coming up with many plans to stop him, but they have failed. I have seen Sunny on a roll, and then bowlers don't have a place to hide. He smashes them all around and that is where all your plans go waste. It is better to stick to basics, keep your field tight, not give room and try to bowl perfect line and length. Wait for your chance.
Do you have plans to counter Tendulkar too?
Yes, Tendulkar is around too. But it's better to stick to your plans and not get too much into individuals. We know what we are going to do, we have plans and try to stick to them and stay focused. There are no favourites in Twenty20.