Sri Lanka in Australia 2012-13

Sangakkara wants more Tests for Sri Lanka

Andrew Fernando in Melbourne

December 23, 2012

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Kumar Sangakkara drives through the off side, Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 5th day, December 18, 2012
Kumar Sangakkara has said each needs to play around 10 to 12 Tests a year © Getty Images
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Kumar Sangakkara hoped better communication between administrators and players would in future help avoid the dearth of Test cricket that Sri Lanka face in 2013. When the Sydney Test ends early in the new year Sri Lanka will have played their last Test against top-flight opposition until December. Two-thousand-and-thirteen had shaped to be a busy year for Sri Lanka in the longest format, but the removal of five Tests now means a glut of ODI cricket will now overwhelm their schedule.

A two-Test series in the West Indies was the first to be scrapped, as both boards scrambled to make their players available for the duration of the IPL - a significant boon for that tournament, given Sri Lanka and West Indies were finalists in this year's World Twenty20. In place of the cancelled Tests, the teams will play a budget-friendly ODI tri-series involving India, which can only take place after the Champions' Trophy, which was the time Sri Lanka had originally been slated to host South Africa at home.

That three-Test series was then postponed until 2015, with the Sri Lanka Premier League, which is scheduled for early August, ensuring that South Africa's visit could not be moved to that month. The culling of Tests from Sri Lanka's schedule had already become a theme of the present administration, who also did away with one home Test against then world No.1 England in March this year, as well as replacing two Tests against India in July and August with a five-match ODI series.

The news of the Test removals were met with personal disappointment among the seniors in the Sri Lanka team, but in November captain Mahela Jayawardene defended the board's decisions, suggesting the preference of limited-overs cricket over Tests would allow the board to continue to function despite its financial distress. If both of the two Tests scheduled in Zimbabwe materialise, Sri Lanka will play no more than six Tests in the year, with four of those having been against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

"I think each country should play a minimum of 10 to 12 Test matches a year," Sangakkara said. "Hopefully 12 Test matches a year. We need to make sure that we find time to do that. I think players and administrators and everyone should really be together and talk on these things and understand that Test cricket is important. That's the only way cricketers are going to improve."

Sri Lanka last played South Africa at home in 2006, when they defeated the visitors 2-0 in a two Test series. At 35, Sangakkara may not be playing Test cricket in 2015, while 35-year-old Mahela Jayawardene and 36-year-olds Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera are also likely to consider retirement before that series.

"South Africa coming to Sri Lanka would have been a fantastic opportunity for us to try and beat the number one side in our own conditions. We have done that before. So it's disappointing. Hopefully, there will be more Test matches played and more thought put into scheduling and having a discussion as to how we fit in ten to 12 Test Matches a year."

Sangakkara also said the detriments of the paucity of Tests would spread beyond the Test specialists in the team, like Samaraweera, Prasanna Jayawardene, Chanaka Welegedara and Suraj Randiv.

"It's not just disappointing for them, even for us. Whatever the form you play, you want to play more Test cricket. So hopefully after next year we can be more proactive in our scheduling and we can talk on which countries are willing to come and play and how are we going to schedule Test cricket so that it is kept as the ultimate form of the game."

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by mihir_nam on (December 25, 2012, 15:58 GMT)

Hahaha Sri Lankan cricketers want more test but want their Board to scrap Test series as it clashes with premier leagues. Well Sri Lankans. I was Sri Lankan supporter since they got Victory over West Indies in Nheru Cup 1989 then won 1995 Tri Series in UAE. then reached final of Tri Series in Australia after playing full test series there. then won World Cup . Gave world good players like Jayasuriya,Desilva,Vaas,Murali,Tilakratne etc..then came 1999/00 with Mahela new era of Lankan test started then came Sangga another class player. But what happen now you are like BCCI pet. want to play India again and again . Look at Aussies they have BBL running but they have not scrapped their test series for that. International cricket should go on. I am not against leagues but it should not be done at compromise of Test Cricket. Please re-Schedule 2 Test Series with Windies. Sangga Mahela Dilshan can miss 2 weeks of IPL. ICC should intervene and be strict with SLCB. Suspend them from test

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 25, 2012, 7:01 GMT)

@DilumSL, you are spot on correct! West Indies nicely kept their home season going whilst IPL was on. Darren Sammy the awesome power hitter (my favorite cricketer) must be saluted for refusing all international T20s!

Posted by DilumSL on (December 25, 2012, 6:36 GMT)

@Sinhaya: May be you are speaking the truth about the foreign players in SLPL. But still I believe SLPL is a must. we already had an inter provincial t20 tournament before SLPL. It was a complete failure coz no one cared about that. and some even didn't know that there was a tournament like that. speaking about West Indies I think they are the only nation who benefited by IPL other than India. They stick to their schedule even without their top players like Gayle, Bravo etc... and able to find some new players. Now look at them. WT20 Champions

Posted by shivif on (December 25, 2012, 3:44 GMT)

I just cannot fathom how the Sri Lankan Board could scrap a test series against South Africa at home . This is sacrilegious. Do not they have iota of common sense. What's this about playing against Bangladesh and Zimbabawe. Is it for our batters to pile up their runs against mediocre teams. As cricket aficionados we need to voice our opinion. Its not only about the crowd pulling 20 20 that matters. These formats are fleeting. However test cricket has stood the test of time. Cash is important, but should not be the only factor.

Posted by ex-Srilankan on (December 25, 2012, 2:13 GMT)

It is time countries that give lower priority to test cricket be penalised by having their test status suspended. Only a threat of such action will move countries like Sri Lanka to take test cricket more seriously.

Sangakarra has a mixed record on this subject. Does he want the WI-SL series re-instated thereby running the risk of not earning a lot of money via the IPL or is he talking only about the SA-SL series?

Posted by MH19 on (December 24, 2012, 21:13 GMT)

Sanga's comment is very well supported towards the longer format of the game but also now only he has realised this.We are no way near to be a very good test side but a brilliant 50 over side.We need to beat teams like Australia in Australia, India in India and we have still not done this.Beating South Africa in SA was an awesome result but the way they played the 3rd test was horrible.Looking at the players in SL I do not see anyone likes test cricket they all like SLPL,IPL and making quick bucks classic example is Malinga and seniors dont set an example. If we play more test we can change that perception.

Posted by   on (December 24, 2012, 18:21 GMT)

Bangladesh is starving for test cricket as well. The SLankans can always play them.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 24, 2012, 15:50 GMT)

@DilumSL, sorry correction to my earlier response to you. Sanga must realize that you cant have both tests and IPL full duration in a congested cricket calendar. I suppose small not so rich cricket boards like Sri Lanka, West Indies and NZ must depend on IPL to get some extra income for survival. Look at NZ, they will have to play a depleted side for the 1st test against England in May 2013 cos many players are playing IPL and will only arrive in England just on the eve of the first test. Like Indian fan tanstell87 says, IPL being trimmed down to 4 weeks will greatly be helpful to everyone.

Posted by   on (December 24, 2012, 15:37 GMT)

Another Tri Series with India??? come on we are sick of playing india

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 24, 2012, 15:30 GMT)

@Romesh Perera, honestly Sanga and Mahela must realize that they got all the privileges they enjoy today all due to our 1996 successs. Prior to our 1996 world cup success, players could not rely on cricket to make a living. They used to go by bus for practice sessions. But today Sanga and Mahela have made ample amounts of money for plenty of generations after them to survive. One thing I respect Aravinda and Arjuna is that they loved playing for the country far more than Mahela and Sanga who are too tempted by IPL lures. Also yes both of them are not giving adequate space for young batsmen to establish themselves in the years ahead when they are gone. It is utterly ludicrous and ridiculous for Sanga to be crying for test match shortage when surely could have pleaded with the board to play the 3 tests against SA in July next year. Honestly by the time we tour Pakistan or UAE this time next year to play Pakistan, we can get thrashed due to our lack of tests.

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