The last time the ICC Cricket World Cup was played on the subcontinent, the Sri Lankan team was a revelation. What impact will Arjuna Ranatunga's legacy have on this team?
The present generation of players was inspired by the amazing performances of Arjuna's 1996 team. They changed cricket in Sri Lanka forever and raised expectations. The team grew in self-belief and whenever we walked onto the field afterwards we did so confident that we could win.
- Name: Kumar Sangakkara
- Age: 33
- Nationality: Sri Lankan
- Lives in: Kandy
- Claim to fame: Sri Lanka captain, is currently ranked third in the ICC Test rankings for batsmen
Any concerns or fitness worries for the team ahead of the World Cup? Are you happy with the levels of preparation that your team's had this far?
Losing the West Indies tour due to rain at the end of December interrupted preparations but we adjusted our plans and things are going pretty smoothly. We are playing a limited-overs Provincial Tournament right now which is ensuring we have all had enough match practice and a rearranged three-match series against West Indies in late January will also be useful. In terms of injuries we are fine right now except for the normal niggles you expect as a professional cricketer.
Besides Sri Lanka, obviously, if you had to pick a team that could lift the World Cup this year, which would that team be? Why?
I think this year's World Cup is wide open for two main reasons. Firstly, we have returned to a format similar to 1996 with a quarter-final stage. This means the winner faces three knock-out matches and increases the unpredictability of the tournament. Secondly, there are a number of teams which on paper are very evenly matched in terms of talent. India, Australia, South Africa, England and Sri Lanka are all quality sides and then you can't rule out a team like West Indies either. The key will be how each team rises to the occasion and handles the pressure.
You've just signed up with the Deccan Chargers. Looking forward to that?Also, do you think too much is being made out of the IPL - that it's possibly more about the razzmatazz than cricket?
My focus right now is obviously the World Cup, but I am still looking forward to IPL4. Although we were not as successful as we'd hoped in IPL2 and IPL3, I really enjoyed the IPL experience during the first three years with Kings XI Punjab. The standard of cricket was high and the whole atmosphere of the tournament was unique. This time I will be going to Deccan and I am very excited about being part of their set-up. Darren Lehmann, our coach, has shrewdly assembled a strong-looking squad and hopefully we can be one of the teams to watch in IPL4.
How happy are you with the next generation of Sri Lankan cricketers. Anyone that you've been particularly impressed with?
Angelo Mathews is definitely one of our upcoming stars, a quality player with bat and ball as well as a good thinker. He needs to keep working hard on his game and his fitness because he has the potential to be the one of the very best all-rounders in world cricket. He also has leadership potential. There are some other quality players coming through too. I have been impressed with Kaushal Silva, a quality batsman and wicketkeeper well suited to Test cricket. Dinesh Chandimal is one to watch for the ODI and T20 teams and he is pushing a really strong case for a place. Sachitra Senanayake, an off-spinner who can also bat and field, has caught my eye recently and Nuwan Pradeep, a young paceman who has signed with Bangalore Royal Challengers, is an exciting prospect.
You studied to be a lawyer. Is that something for when you retire or would you rather join the growing list of ex-cricketers-turned-commentators?
I can't see myself doing TV commentary full-time, although it might be fun to do the odd series if a broadcaster was interested in me. Finishing my degree might be difficult now, although it is definitely something I will consider. The priority, though, will be my family and giving them as much of my time as possible. Being on the road as a cricketer I have already missed lots of time with them and it will be good to catch up on that.
You are involved with a lot of charity work in Sri Lanka. Tell us a bit about it?
I have been helping the Think Wise initiative run by the ICC, UNAids and Unicef for several years, trying to raise awareness about HIV.
I've also agreed to help Unicef in Sri Lanka as I'd like to focus my charitable work around children. I am a partner of the Foundation of Goodness, Muralitharan's charity near Galle, but my participation in their work has thus far been limited. After I retire I can hopefully spend more time on such initiatives.
You travel a lot in your line of work - what are the top four accessoriesyou always remember to pack?
I always take a selection of books as I love reading, some DVDs of TV series, usually comedies like The Simpsons or Seinfeld.I like to take photographs of Yehali and the kids, Sywree and Kavith. Hair wax is always high up on the packing list too.
If you could keep wickets to any bowler that's ever played the game, who would that be? Why?
Muralitharan. I have had the honour and privilege keeping to him for most of my career and that is something I will forever be grateful for.