Kumar Sangakkara has lauded praise onto his Surrey teammates despite scoring a record-breaking 171 himself on the opening day of their County Championship match against Somerset. The 38-year-old believes that the way in which he partners batted alongside him made his game a lot easier.
“I thought Burnsy [Rory Burns] and Jason [Roy] were just outstanding because they kept putting pressure on the bowlers, putting the bad balls away and making my batting much easier for me because I had positive intent all the time.”
“Burnsy batted beautifully. I’ve enjoyed watching him bat [from last season], he’s technically very sound, he’s good front foot or back and the really important thing I always watch for is how they score runs and Burnsy goes out there to score runs, so does Jason, so does Steven Davies and of course the Baron, Arun Harinath.
“That kind of positivity is really good. Of course, it can get you out at times but I think as a side you [would] rather have that intent at all times.”
Jason Roy hit 85 after Rory Burns was dismissed for 80, and Sangakkara suggested that Roy was a better player than himself.
“I think he’s batting a lot better than I am for sure and he’s got more ability than I have and a much greater repertoire of shots.
“Everyone’s different and I think the key for Jason is that he needs to trust in his ability and that he is Jason Roy and doesn’t try to be anyone else”
After a strong winter with the England white-ball side, particularly his good run of form in the World T20, Sangakkara believes that Roy can go on and find a place in the Test side.
“I think Jason can easily fit into Test cricket, I think he’s the kind of player who can play any format of the game. Jason is a player who can take a game away from an opposition very, very quickly and that’s very important in the modern day game.
“So I just hope that he gets his opportunity and maximises it because I love watching him bat. I think he’s been wonderful for England in the one-day and T20 formats and I think he’s really hungry to play the longer version as well.”
Surrey are in a strong position according to Sangakkara, closing out the first day 394-5, and he believes that the success of this opening day was important for the team.
“After the Nottinghamshire game it was important that we got off to a good start, first game at home and I thought that the way that everyone went about batting, the application and the intent they showed was really good.
“It was a wicket that once we got through the new ball, things became a bit easier. I had a bit of luck as well but after that it was a case of trying to make sure we kept pressure on the bowlers and again, I’m really happy with the day from a team point of view and individually.”
“I think we’re in a very strong position but tomorrow morning is going to be very key for us. Especially the first hour: ensure that we see through the second new ball, make sure that they go wicketless for their first spells of the two main bowlers and hopefully capitalise after that through to lunch.”
The Sri Lankan spent much of the winter playing limited overs cricket, but he feels very happy to have returned to the red-ball format and to county cricket.
“I think it’s the best format of the game. Four-day cricket is thoroughly enjoyable and for Surrey, stepping up from Division Two to Division One I think it’s important we keep believing in ourselves, making sure that we cover our bases and do the basics really well and keep believing in the players that we do have because I strongly believe that we have some fantastic players.”
“What I really admire about county cricket is just that [hunger]: it’s not the easiest format of the game whether you’re a batsman or a bowler but I think it’s amazingly impressive and inspiring to have these guys around you.
“I’ve learnt a lot from this dressing room and my stints with other counties about how professional they are, how motivated they are and how they keep that hunger alive.
“It can get cold, it can get wet, it can be a long season but these boys turn up day in, day out with only one thing in mind and that is doing their best and I think that’s been a big thing for me to learn from.”