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September 15, 2011
On the eve of his 100th Test, Kumar Sangakkara has called on the ICC to do away with two-Test series, describing such scheduling as "unsatisfying". The third Test against Australia at Colombo will offer Sangakkara and his team the chance to pull back a 1-0 deficit, but they have not always been so fortunate.
As a stylish batsman, successful captain and articulate statesman for Sri Lankan cricket, Sangakkara said he had taken part in too many series where the narrative felt unduly clipped due to the lack of a third Test.
One of his imponderables is the 2007 series in Australia, where the under-prepared visitors lost in Brisbane but then, through Sangakkara's own majestic 192 in the second Test, pushed the hosts far further. The prospect of a third match might have made a significant change to the script.
"It is unsatisfactory to play so many two-Test series," Sangakkara told ESPNcricinfo. "As a country, to be measured up as a Test country, you need to keep playing three to five Test match series as much as you can.
"I don't think five Test series are attractive anymore to TV networks, but I think Test series should be a minimum of three matches. I hope the ICC can stipulate that, I don't know if they can."
Among forthcoming series, Australia's visit to South Africa has been cut to two Tests to accommodate the Twenty20 Champions League, a move that has already been heavily criticised for marginalising Test cricket.
"Test cricket is still, to my mind, the most important form of the game out there," Sangakkara said. "There's nothing like it, there's nothing that comes close to it. This is the only arena where you can really make your mark as a cricketer. If you are successful at Test cricket, that is all that matters I think."
Sri Lanka's success since Sangakkara's debut in 2000 has been charted largely under overseas coaches, including Tom Moody and Trevor Bayliss. However Sangakkara is fervent in his desire for a home-grown mentor to take the role full-time, and cited the former opening batsman Chandika Hathurusingha as an ideal candidate.
"I think we have a great opportunity to have a completely Sri Lankan coaching unit. That will be amazing if we can do it," Sangakkara said. "And we've had candidates the calibre of Chandika Hathurusingha, who is now the assistant coach for New South Wales. He has been a great loss to us.
"He made an amazing contribution to our cricket, and he is an extremely capable coach. Rumesh Ratnayake has also been exemplary, unfortunately he has come at a time when we've had quite a bad series, but these two people have shown we have the quality in Sri Lanka to have a completely local coaching unit which we can be proud of, and second to none in the world.
"At the same time if the administration and the captain also think a foreign coach is the way to go, that is also no problem, because there are many excellent coaches around the world … There is Graham Ford, Geoff Marsh and a lot of other coaches in the running for this job, they're fantastic people, they've got great records and have proven themselves all over the world.
"Any one of them would be a great addition to our cricket, but on a personal level, and it's not a sentimental thing, I think we have the quality in Sri Lanka as well, unfortunately not in Sri Lanka now. One of them is outside coaching NSW, but we have the Sri Lankans capable of also being national coaches and doing a great job."
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