Two greats walked off into the cricketing sunset this week. While Kumar Sangakkara did so to universal acclaim, the Australian captain Michael Clarke departed to a universal opinion about his batting greatness but in a cricket world otherwise deeply divided over other avenues, including captaincy as he was thought to be a divisive figure.
Sri Lanka’s Sangakkara, acknowledged as a deep thinker on the game as well as in life beyond the field, was invited by his country’s President to be Sri Lanka’s high commissioner in London. So highly regarded is he that a major role for the lawyer-cricketer in public life cannot be ruled out. At the crease, he was an accomplished technician who made batting seem as easy and elegant as effective. As a speaker, he fascinated the world with his Colin Cowdrey lecture on the spirit of cricket.
Clarke was the “pup” who grew up into “top dog”, inviting adulation among fans on one hand and, on the other, wrath among critics. May be Clarke became an unwitting victim of the “tall poppy” syndrome in which anyone growing must be viciously cut down as he drove fancy cars and dated glamorous women, and once even left a series midway to handle a romance crisis. His cricketing deeds speak for themselves though, his conquest of the World Cup for a grateful nation early this year and other great accomplishments in Test matches marking him out as a fine sportsman.