Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara has backed Graham Ford to succeed in his second stint as the nation’s head coach.
The South African left his post as Surrey coach on Thursday to return to the international scene and a role which he previously occupied with the sub continent side from 2012 to 2014.
His appointment ends the Sri Lankan Cricket Board’s five-month long search for a successor to Marvan Atapattu, who resigned in September.
And Sangakkara feels the right choice has been made in re-hiring Ford, who guided Surrey to the Division Two title last year and convinced the left-hander to ply his trade in the second tier of county cricket for the south London club.
“I think Graham Ford is an exceptional human being and an exceptional coach,” Sangakkara told Sport360 during his visit to the National School League (NSL) Finals day.
“I had a wonderful few years under him with Sri Lanka and then last season at Surrey. I think he is the ideal choice and he’s a great man-manager with a huge amount of passion for the game.
“At this particular moment we couldn’t have asked for anyone better. I just hope that he has a wonderful tenure and I know the boys enjoy working with him so he’ll be ideal for us.”
Ford, who has agreed a deal with the SLC board until the 2019 ICC World Cup, has got little time to get his feet under the table second time around with Sri Lanka set to defend their World Twenty20 crown in March in India.
Absolutely gutted to hear the news about Graham Ford. One of the best coaches I have ever worked with and wish him the very best.— Jade Dernbach (@Jwd_16) January 29, 2016
The 55-year-old coach, who cut short his first reign in charge due to personal reasons before Sri Lanka’s success in Bangladesh four years ago, can take the team forward, according to Sangakkara.
“I think in Twenty20 Cricket, Sri Lanka always have a very good opportunity because we have a varied bowling attack, we’ve got some wonderful new young players coming through and a core group of older players. Fordy, himself, would probably have liked a few more months of preparation with the team but I’m sure he’ll adjust and adapt with what he has to work with. I’m very hopeful that the team will do well.”
Meanwhile, Sangakkara, who retired from international cricket last year after a glorious 15-year career which contained a combined 63 Test and one-day international hundreds, is currently playing for the Gemini Arabians in the Masters Champions League in the UAE.
And today the left-handed batsman will face one of his idols, Brian Lara, as the Arabians look to make it two wins out of two against the Leo Lions in Dubai.
“I’m looking forward to the match very much. It’s an exciting tournament and concept. To have so many of the old greats come back and play and having a lot of current county and league cricketers come into the mix to means the cricket’s going to be of a very high quality,” said the Sri Lankan, who hit a 43- ball 86 in the tournament’s opening match to help his side to victory
“It’s going to be very entertaining and I just hope that the spectators have a really good time and they come in large numbers. I’ve had some interesting run-ins with Brian Lara when he’s dominated attacks around the world. He came to Sri Lanka in 2001 and we won the three-match Test series 3-0 but he scored 688 runs all by himself. Brian and Sir Vivian Richards are the two batsmen I really idolise.”