'Bowlers win you crunch games in T20 or The Hundred' - Kumar Sangakkara
Kumar Sangakkara says that a balanced bowling attack is the key to winning crunch games in short-form cricket, and that he would select a bowler if he was given first pick in the inaugural draft for The Hundred this Sunday.
239 overseas players have registered for the draft and will be competing for only 24 spots, while six players have put themselves forward at the maximum reserve price of £125,000.
Those six names include three batsmen - Chris Gayle, Steven Smith and David Warner - and three bowlers in Lasith Malinga, Kagiso Rabada and Mitchell Starc.
ALSO READ: Full player list revealed for The Hundred draft
"In T20 cricket, or now The Hundred, a balanced, exceptional bowling attack is always what's going to win you crunch games and finals," Sangakkara said. "You can have the best batting in the world, but it needs to be supported by the best bowling."
And Sangakkara highlighted the two men that he thought stood out among the overseas players in the top salary bracket. "I would always go for a bowler - someone with the experience and the quality of Lasith Malinga or Mitchell Starc," he said.
But it was the Sri Lankan strike bowler, who will resume his role as T20 captain in his country's three-match series in Australia later this month, that Sangakkara said would be his first choice.
"I would still go for Lasith Malinga, I think," he said. "Malinga has really shown, even in the recent past, how skilled he is. He tore through New Zealand in that final T20 game - he took four [wickets] in four balls again, which was an incredible feat, so I wouldn't look past Malinga."
Malinga has an exceptional record in T20 cricket in England for Sri Lanka, taking 19 wickets in his 11 games in the country. His economy rate in those matches is just 6.66 runs per over, and he was superb in the 2009 World T20, taking 12 wickets in seven appearances including 3-17 against Pakistan at Lord's.
But in a mock draft conducted by eight media teams at Lord's on Wednesday, Malinga was one of the high-profile overseas stars who was not picked up, with assorted journalists picking Rashid Khan, Kagiso Rabada and Sunil Narine as their main bowling options instead. The draft takes place on Sunday, October 20.
Kumar Sangakkara was speaking at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London as part of a drive to rebuild tourism from the UK to Sri Lanka