Sangakkara excited for Durham debut

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SRI Lanka star Kumar Sangakkara is excited to make his Durham bow against Yorkshire, writes Gary Foster.

Sangakkara will play two County Championship games for Jon Lewis’ side – the first of which is against the Tykes at the Emirates ICG tomorrow (11am start).

A T20 World Cup winner with Sri Lanka, Sangakkara is a huge fan of the English domestic game.

And says despite some feeling both County and Test cricket are behind the times, both remain the best format to hone your skills as a batsman.

“I think the same arguments are brought about Test and County cricket,” he said.

“People say it’s archaic, old fashioned, and not really practical for spectators.

“IPLs (Indian Premier League) and T20s are a great bonus to have after a real hard season of international cricket, but to have that as your focus is wrong.

“Being selected into an IPL Caribbean Premier League or Big Bash franchise depends on your work as an international cricketer. You only get that by representing your country.

“Being old-fashioned or being terms archaic I think is a really good thing.

“There’s very little of that left, and I think Test cricket and county cricket are very refreshing for players and spectators.

“Once your playing days are over, it’s obscurity for most players, but the players who are talked about are the players who’ve made an impact in the longer form of the game. That’s a huge incentive for any cricketer.”

The 36-year-old is expecting to be tested tomorrow both by Yorkshire and the early-season conditions.

But it is a challenge the Durham new boy is looking forward to.

He added: “I have to be focused and try to make an impact against Yorkshire.

“To do that I will need to come to terms with the different conditions throughout the summer.

“It starts off cold, and you move on to warmer more pleasant days in the summer.

“Mark Benson (former England and Kent cricketer) used to talk about Aravinda Da Silva when he played for Kent.

“In early summer Aravinda came in, and they thought he was the worst signing they’d ever made.

“Then he started churning out hundreds when the sun came out, he said he’d never seen batting like that.

“It’s really important for cricketers to be able to come to terms with those challenges.

“It’s not just a case of skills, but it’s mentally being able to adapt.

“A lot of people talk about mental strength, but it’s more about mental skills and adaptability than anything else. That’s what gets you through the tough times.”

Gareth Breese could make way for Sangakkara, while Lewis and skipper Paul Collingwood must decide whether or not to recall bowler Mark Wood, who has returned from a side strain, but they are still without the services of all-rounder Ben Stokes.

Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale looks set to return for the visitors, with the in-form Gary Ballance unavailable due to an England call-up.