Sangakkara returned a hero despite the loss on Saturday in the World Cup final [AFP]

Three days after the Cricket World Cup final, Kumar Sangakkara has stood down as captain of Sri Lanka''s limited overs team.

Sangakkara said he is stepping down immediately but will continue to be the Test captain for the tour of England in May this year, and possibly the home series against Australia to ensure a smooth transition.

The 33-year-old led by example at the World Cup, finishing as the third highest scorer with 465 runs behind team mate Tillakaratne Dilshan (500), who is hotly tipped to succeed him as the next captain, and Indian Sachin Tendulkar (482).

The wicketkeeper-batsman wants to keep playing international cricket, saying he was available for selection in all forms of the game.

Sangakkara said he made up his mind before Sri Lanka reached their second straight World Cup final.

''Long-term interests''

"I would like to announce that after careful consideration I have concluded that it is in the best long-term interests of the team that I step down now as national captain," Sangakkara said in a statement to Cricket Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

"I met with the selectors on Monday and I explained my reasons for my decision and I assured them of my fullest support in helping our new captain settle into the leadership.

"This was a decision I made prior to the World Cup. I will be 37 by the next World Cup and I cannot therefore be sure of my place in the team.

"It is better that Sri Lanka is led now by a player who will be at the peak of their career during that tournament."

Sangakkara, a fluent left-hand batsman, said he had no plans yet to retire as a player.

"I have no plans of retirement from international cricket at this stage and, subject to form and fitness, I would like to be considered for selection in all three formats of the game for the foreseeable future."

Sangakkara has scored 8,244 runs in 94 Tests at an average of 57.25 with 24 centuries. He also has 9,164 runs in 291 one-dayers with 11 hundreds.

''Honour''

Sangakkara said he had enjoyed his two-year stint as captain since taking over from Mahela Jayawardene in March, 2009.

"It has been a true honour and a great privilege to serve my country as captain during the past two years," he said.

"Although bitterly disappointed that we could not win the final, I am very proud of the performances of the team.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank my team-mates and the coaching staff for their hard work and support."

There was no immediate comment from Sri Lanka Cricket or the national selectors on Sangakkara''s decision. 

Source: Agencies