Sri Lankan cricket legend Kumar Sangakkara, the first overseas president of the Marylebone Cricket Club, will captain the MCC against English county champions Essex in Sri Lanka next March, it was announced on Thursday.
The 42-year-old batting great – whose 15 year international career encompassed 134 Test appearances and over 400 one day internationals – will lead out his side in the English domestic season’s traditional curtain-raiser at the Galle International Stadium from March 24-27.
The clash between the MCC and the champions dates back to 1970 and has been played abroad since 2011 – the last edition in Dubai suffered from that most English of interruptions: rain.
Sri Lanka has been selected for several reasons: the MCC’s World Cricket committee will meet there in March, and the match is timed to coincide with England’s World Test Championship matches in the country.
Sangakkara, who became MCC President on October 1, said the game would be of huge benefit to the sport in Sri Lanka.
“It is hugely important to support cricket in countries such as Sri Lanka and taking the Champion County match to Galle is a fantastic way for the Club to provide its backing for the game on a global level,” he said in a statement.
“I am looking forward to playing for and indeed captaining the MCC team, which will be full of exciting young talent ready to challenge the county champions.”
Shammi Silva, president of Sri Lanka Cricket, said it was an honour and privilege to have been chosen as the hosts.
“We are happy to be the host of this historic encounter, which marks the curtain-raiser to the new English domestic season,” he said.”