More often than not, choices put one between the devil and the deep blue sea. For Kumar Sangakkara however, it was seemingly less life-threatening, having to choose to represent either the Kandurata Maroons or the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the upcoming Champions League T20. Sangakkara opted for Kanduranta, but with it opened a can of worms feeding on commitment, loyalty and a sense of belonging.
The veteran Sri Lanka claimed that his country's board (SLC) put him in a position where his loyalty was called into question. Aimed at SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga, Sangakkara slammed the histrionics of a country-versus-franchise debate and added that he was happy to represent his home franchise. This is where the SLC assumed the role of the devil. Remember, at this point in time, an anti-IPL sensation is still being felt across Sri Lanka; a controversy that forced the Islands' players to skip games in Chennai during season six.
The SLC and Ranatunga in particular clearly capitalized on this, by stating their 'preference' for Sangakkara to 'choose' his home franchise. Sangakkara seems a smart man and recognized at once that opting to play for the Sunrisers would paint him as the villain. He made his choice but not without leaving a parting note of dismay and anger. The matter between the board and Sanga is now resolved but a bitter taste still remains.
On the face of it Sangakkara may not have been a big loss to the Sunrisers and is not a guaranteed member of the playing XI. However, the IPL side made it clear that the former Lankan captain was an integral part of their CL T20 plans, which included the advertising and promotion campaigns.
Consider this - since Sangakkara has held a national contract in 2003 he has never demanded money to play for his local club. He has never taken the prize money offered in domestic championships and provincials as a matter of principle. Yet, the SLC felt the need to remind him of his perceived 'duty'. With this decision, Sangakkara will lose $140,000 from his IPL salary as well as CL T20 bonuses. But, going by track record, money doesn't seem to be his prime motive.
According the governing rules, if Sangakkara chose to play for the Sunrisers, Kandurata would be entitled to $150,000 from the IPL franchise. Kandurata is a SLC franchise and therefore the money would be owed to the board. The SLC appeared magnanimous by 'waving' their fee from the IPL franchise. But as Sangakkara right puts it, 'there is little or no comparison to the financial loss suffered by a board as opposed to an individual cricketer'.
It is also interesting to note that the matter of 'choice' was not brought up in the case of Nuwan Kulasekara, who too will represent the Kandurata Maroons. He is clearly not in the plans of the Chennai Super Kings and was automatically considered 'loyal'.
Sangakkara has every right to feel belittled. He may have opted for Kandurata in any case but the SLC ensured that the 35-year-old was forced to.