Kumar Sangakkara thanked fans by waving but was not given a chance to speak. © AFP
The seventh ODI between England and Sri Lanka on December 16, 2014, was the last time Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene played an ODI on Sri Lankan soil. Thousands had turned up to the R. Premadasa Stadium to be a part of the moment, and many thousands more were glued to their TV screens for the farewell of arguably Sri Lanka’s two most adored cricketers.
Both were unfortunately dismissed early in their innings and could not finish on a personal high. Sri Lanka did win the match though, and Jayawardene and Sangakkara combined to take the final wicket in a joyous ending. Jayawardene, who rarely bowls, bowed out with a wicket in his final delivery, while Sangakkara registered a stumping off the final delivery of his final ODI at home.
The stands erupted immediately. The spectators cheered and chanted, and awaited the presentation ceremony and the celebrations that were to follow. This was the grand farewell for Sangakkara and Jayawardene that they had come for. The duo did their lap of honour to show their appreciation to all those who had turned up.
The post-match presentation ceremony was compered by TV commentator Russel Arnold. The former Sri Lankan cricketer invited both Sangakkara and Jayawardene in front of the cameras, and they both sheepishly walked up. They took their time getting there.
“I wasn’t prepared for this but thank you very much,” Jayawardene said after being handed the microphone.
After thanking his family, friends and fans Jayawardene handed the microphone back to Arnold, and with Sangakkara still standing there awaiting his turn to speak, Arnold invited the team to collect the trophy. Sangakkara, almost embarrassingly, walked off after being ignored.