Sangakkara is joined as the five Wisden players of the year by Lancashire’s Glen Chapple, Worcestershire’s Alan Richardson and England duo Alastair Cook and Tim Bresnan.
Sangakkara compiled 2,267 international runs in the three formats last year – no other player broke 2,000 – with five centuries and 13 fifties, and uniquely reached four figures in both Tests and one-day internationals for the third time.
A century in probably his last Test on English soil at Hampshire helped ensure he was named as one of the cricketers of the year, the award conferred by the publication’s editor – a mantle taken on this year by Lawrence Booth – on the individuals who have most shaped the English cricketing summer, and which a player can win only once.
“I had always wanted a Test hundred at Lord’s but, if that was not to be, then anywhere in England,” Sangakkara tells David Hopps in the Almanack. “The Rose Bowl felt as if it might be my last opportunity.”
Sangakkara also won praise for his delivery of the MCC’s Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture, reproduced in part in Wisden, in which he confronted the level of government interference in his country’s cricket.
“Writing that speech became a deeply personal experience,” he added. “I knew there were ways it could be misinterpreted, but it was a story I felt I needed to tell.”
Joining the 34-year-old as cricketers of the year are fellow veterans Glen Chapple, Lancashire’s title-winning captain and talisman, and Worcestershire seamer Alan Richardson, the leading wicket-taker in Division One of last season’s LV= County Championship with 73.
England pair Alastair Cook, with 927 Test runs at an average of 84 in addition to his return to the one-day international side as captain, and Tim Bresnan – who took 21 Test wickets at 19, scored 189 runs at 63 and finished the summer with a 100 per cent winning record from 10 Tests – complete the quintet.
Richardson said: “To be recognised along world-class cricketers such as Alastair Cook, Tim Bresnan, Glen Chapple and Kumar Sangakkara is a real honour.”
Yorkshireman Bresnan said: “It’s a very select membership and I’m over the moon to receive such a prestigious honour.
“To be included alongside the four other players this year and the great names of the past is very special indeed.”
Chapple told the Lancashire website: “Obviously it’s a great honour and something usually reserved for international cricketers. I’m really pleased.
“It’s a testament to how the lads have played as a team. My performances on their own wouldn’t have won me this award, so I put it down to a great team effort this last year.”
The five winners each receive an inscribed leather-bound edition of the Almanack and Chapple quipped: “That’ll be great – I’ll have a bookcase built.”
Elsewhere in the Almanack, Booth uses his first editor’s notes to address a wide spread of topics, most notably the global shifting of focus towards Twenty20 cricket and the role of the Board of Control for Cricket in India in the governance of the world game.
Describing T20 as “a Pandora’s Box masquerading as a panacea”, Booth adds: “Outside England, the Test match increasingly resembles the quiet zone of world cricket’s gravy train: respected in theory, ignored in practice.
“The real damage is being done by the prevalence of the two-match series. For any series not involving Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, three Tests must be the minimum.”
On the BCCI’s power, Booth – the youngest Wisden editor in 72 years – writes: “India have ended up with a special gift: the clout to shape an entire sport. But too often their game appears driven by the self-interest of the few.
“Other countries run the game along self-serving lines too … but none wields the BCCI’s power, nor shares their responsibility.”