Is Sanga being selfish?
No, probably not.
During the world cup Sanga announced he'll part ways with International cricket after the Indian test series in August. Allow the cliche, but Cricket will be definitely poorer without Sanga in it. Sanga is arguably the best player of this generation, and would've been hailed as such if he had born few hundred kilo meters north-west of Kandy.
Kumar Sangakkara combines the best of durability and class. He's arguably the best player Sri Lanka has ever produced after Muttiah Muralitharan. I can go on and on; I can write loads about Sanga's class in both the qualitative and quantitative sense. The man possesses the best cover drive in the business, and the best average among modern batsmen. However this article is not about his career; rather, it’s about his retirement.
Sanga has always been a big advocate of retiring when he's at his peak. When Sanath extended his stay in the team using external means, Sanga was vocal about the problem. He and Mahela both openly said that when the time comes, they wouldn't stick around at the expense of the team. Sri Lankans sided with Sanga and Mahela over Sanath, who taught the country to love the game.
Sanath, Kapil and Sachin (to an extent) played well past their peak for personal records and ego. Fans were critical of them and rightly so. However, isn't retiring when you're easily the best current cricketer also detrimental to your team's progress?
One can understand Sanga's ODI retirement: he's retiring to make way for Sri Lanka to groom another player. In his last 5 ODIs he had 4 centuries at a 100+ strike rate. He's the No. 2 ODI cricketer in the world. However, ODI cricket is about winning that world cup, and Sanga would be 41 for the next world cup. It's not realistic to expect him to be a part of that team.
However, retiring from tests when there is no suitable candidate to take his place? By retiring while on top he's not risking losing his legacy. The team is losing some valuable years and runs from the world's best batsman. In tests, unlike ODIs, you're not playing for a trophy. Is there a better candidate to take his Number 3 spot? Thirimanne has the potential, but is he good enough to carry the torch?
Retiring at your peak AND not retiring when you're well past your peak are both selfish and detrimental to the team. One could argue Sanath and Sachin risked their legacy because they thought they can give more to the team. Is Sanga taking the easy way out?
Murali timed his retirement perfectly. He was in a slight decline during his last years, but stuck around till the team got a better spinner in Herath. Sri Lanka didn't miss Murali much because of this.
Is being selfish wrong from Sanga's point of view? I'd argue no. He has given his all for the entirety of his career. He changed Sri Lanka’s image in the main stage of cricket. If he's bored with cricket, or feels enough is enough, shouldn't we respect his decision? He's achieved almost everything one can achieve in cricket. He himself once joked about the years of his life he lost during his captaincy tenure. We all know how hard it must be to captain the Sri Lankan cricket team.
The Sri Lankan team will miss Sanga after his retirement and they'll get out of the problem in a year or two. Thirimanne looks like a good prospect. I might be little selfish in wanting Sanga to stay for another year, but like Harsha Bhogle said, can we leave such an important decision on Sanga's hands alone?