Kumar Sangakkara confident England tour of Sri Lanka will go ahead in 2020
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 23/05/19 2:05pm
Kumar Sangakkara is confident Sri Lanka will be able to host England's scheduled tour next year despite security concerns raised by the recent Easter Sunday terrorist bombings.
Joe Root's men are due to play Tests in Colombo and Galle in March but the death of over 250 people in a series of co-ordinated attacks last month could force Sri Lanka to join Pakistan in international isolation.
Pakistan have played the majority of their home games in the United Arab Emirates since 2009 when six Sri Lankan players were injured in a gun and grenade attack in Lahore.
Sangakkara, who has been appointed as the first non-British president of Marylebone Cricket Club, notes that some Pakistan players have never competed against other nations on home soil but is hopeful Sri Lanka will escape that scenario.
When asked if he was worried, Sangakkara said "Absolutely. I was in the bus in 2009 when the Sri Lanka team got attacked and I understand the reservations and the security concerns that come after such an incident or even as an observer looking from the outside in.
"We need a very open conversation with the necessary security aspects that are in place, make sure there are independent assessments done, that the boards connect openly and fully.
"We always talk about cricket transcending politics and that has to be the case with tours, as long as security and safety is assured, and there is an honest commitment from every country to put those security measures in place.
"I understand the reservations but I'm sure from a Sri Lankan perspective that those security protocols will be in place very soon.
"Confidence in the country and its ability to combat what has happened is evident to everyone. It's important that tours do go ahead.
"I was very happy to see (former England bowler) Gladstone Small in Galle inspecting some of the hotels just a month after the Easter Sunday attacks. These are all good signs.
"Sri Lanka has been through a lot in the past and has conducted cricket tours, including a World Cup, in very trying circumstances. I'm sure it will happen again."
England launch their challenge to win a first World Cup when they meet South Africa at The Oval next Thursday and Sangakkara says that although they start as favourites, Eoin Morgan's men should just go out and play their natural game.
"It's always about the play-offs - that's the first target, and you have to take it game by game," he told Sky Sports News.
"You can be the best side in the world coming into the tournament but one mistake, one bad passage of play, and in a semi-final you're done. I've seen that happen to many sides; it's happened to us as a team.
"So I'm always in favour of not looking too far ahead and shrugging off this tag of favourites. If you truly believe that you are favourites, that confidence is enough rather than anyone actually expecting you to win. It's up to the players to have that within themselves."
Watch the opening match of the 2019 Cricket World Cup - featuring England and South Africa - live on Sky Sports Cricket and Main Event from 9.30am on Thursday May 30.