sport

Sangakkara would relish return

Kumar Sangakkara has hinted he could return to county cricket as his career draws to a close, after sealing a short-term move to Durham.

The 36-year-old Sri Lanka star will play two games in the County Championship for the defending champions, against Yorkshire and Sussex, as he prepares for his country's summer clashes with England.

But asked if his cameo role could pave the way for a longer stay at Chester-le-Street, Sangakkara said with a smile: "I don't know.

"The real key is relationships are important in cricket. That's one of the beauties of this sport.

"You start off, if you are lucky, in your early 20s and if you do well and if you have very long careers, at the same time you build some lasting and very solid relationships with players and with institutions.

"Looking beyond your future as a cricketer, those relationships stand you in good stead."

Sangakkara had a year in county cricket with Warwickshire back in 2007 and is relishing the opportunity to reacquaint himself with a form of cricket which he believes has played a key role in his success.

He said: "It was probably one of the best experiences I have had as a cricketer.

"Coming into county cricket, I wasn't really sure what to expect but the dressing room atmosphere, the professionalism of county cricketers, left a lasting and very positive impression on my mind.

"That's what I have come to try to re-experience. I would love to keep playing a bit of county cricket into the future - this is probably my last year and a bit in international cricket, so beyond that as well.

"Ever since you start international cricket, how other cricketers, international legends, have spoken about county cricket comes to mind.

"Imran Khan always said if you are a cricketer worth your salt, you have got to come and play county cricket to try to learn more about cricket.

"Not just for me, but for young players around the world and for players at any stage in their career to come and play some seasons for counties is very important.

"If I can have another year here where I can be successful, I would love that."

Durham coach Jon Lewis was thrilled to have landed Sangakkara after a lengthy pursuit, and was quick to dismiss suggestions Durham's gain could prove to be England's loss.

He said: "I understand that criticism might come our way, but really this is about Durham, this is about doing the right thing for us.

"Obviously, we lost a couple of batters during the winter and Ben Stokes' injury early-season has left a bit of a hole too so the opportunity to have Kumar along for a few weeks, even if it was a short period, is well worth it for us."