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Sangakkara relishing second county spell

By Callum Dent

Kumar Sangakkara has revealed the experience he gained from his first taste of county cricket was one of the main reasons behind his decision to join Durham.

The Sri Lanka international, who has played 122 Tests, 369 one-day internationals and 56 Twenty20s, has linked up with Jon Lewis' side for two LV= County Championship matches in preparation for his country's upcoming tour of England.

The 36-year-old's first stint in English domestic cricket came in 2007 when he played seven Division One four-day matches for Warwickshire, which included two hundreds and a half-century against his new employers. 

And that successful period seven years ago is why the wicketkeeper-batsman has made a return.

Speaking at his unveiling at the Emirates Durham ICG this morning, he said: "It was probably one of the best experiences I have had as a cricketer.

"Coming into county cricket, I wasn't really sure what to expect but the dressing room atmosphere, the professionalism of county cricketers, left a lasting and very positive impression on my mind. 

"That's what I have come to try to re-experience. I would love to keep playing a bit of county cricket into the future - this is probably my last year and a bit in international cricket, so beyond that as well.

"Ever since you start international cricket, how other cricketers, international legends, have spoken about county cricket comes to mind.

"Imran Khan always said if you are a cricketer worth your salt, you have got to come and play county cricket to try to learn more about cricket.

"Not just for me, but for young players around the world and for players at any stage in their career to come and play some seasons for counties is very important.

"If I can have another year here where I can be successful, I would love that."

With Sangakkara entering the latter stages of his international career, he has not ruled out the possibility of returning to play for Durham in the future. 

"I don't know,” he said.

"The real key is relationships are important in cricket. That's one of the beauties of this sport.

"You start off, if you are lucky, in your early twenties and if you do well and if you have very long careers, at the same time you build some lasting and very solid relationships with players and with institutions.

"Looking beyond your future as a cricketer, those relationships stand you in good stead."

Durham head coach Lewis will have Sangakkara, a World Twenty20 winner earlier this month, at his disposal for the championship matches versus Yorkshire and Sussex.

He is delighted to have the Sri Lankan legend in his ranks, saying: "Obviously, we lost a couple of batters during the winter and Ben Stokes' injury early-season has left a bit of a hole too so the opportunity to have Kumar along for a few weeks, even if it was a short period, is well worth it for us."

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