Showered with mementos and good wishes in an elaborate farewell ceremony after the second Test match against India, an emotional Kumar Sangakkara today said when one retires from international cricket it does not strike him till the last moment.
"It never hits you until the end comes. You finish the cricket and then you are out there talking about yourself in the past tense," Sangakkara said after bidding farewell to the international cricket here today.
"Preparation as usual was the same, the focus and putting the fact that it is my last Test behind me. The emotion used to come at the end of the day, knowing that the countdown had started," he said.
Talking about the guard of honour given to him by both the Sri Lankan as well as the Indian teams, Sangakkara said: "It (guard of honour) is just another reminder when you walk through that this is the end really. There's no choice but to accept it and get on. I have been very blessed to have the support I have had all through the years and also the support I had over the last five days."
Sangakkara, who signed off with 12,400 runs in 134 Tests at an average of 57.40, expressed disappointment over Sri Lanka failing to stop India from winning the Test and levelling the three-match series 1-1.
"Unfortunately, we didn't play as well as we could. India played a fantastic game of cricket. But from a personal point of view, enjoyed every minute of it even though ending up on the losing side is disappointing. I was very, very glad that I have been fortunate enough to play another Test match," 37-year-old left-hander.
Sangakkara ended his career in front of his family –- parents, wife and children -- as well as close friends and supporters and said it was a special moment.
"There were quite a few special moments. Today was always going to be special for a lot of reasons. It was the first time that I had my parents, siblings, wife and children all together at one place, watching me play. That is always going to be the memorable part of my game. Not the on-field part.
"But being not able to spend time with my wife, children and parents. My parents have never made a fuss of anything. They rarely come to the games or see me off during the games. But they keenly follow my game," he revealed.