Sangakkara's 100th Test

Two-Test series unsatisfactory - Sangakkara

Daniel Brettig in Colombo

September 15, 2011

Comments: 63 | Text size: A | A

Kumar Sangakkara plays the ball to the on side, Sri Lanka v Australia, 2nd Test, Pallekele, 4th day, September 11, 2011
Kumar Sangakkara believes Sri Lanka don't have to look overseas for coaching talent © Associated Press
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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."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 17:21 GMT)

day night test cricket is needed .and we indians are not running after t20 cricket we are playing max test and least t20 as internationals

Posted by 3rd_man on (September 18, 2011, 9:44 GMT)

I agree, more matches play in a series more chance of a result. too many test matches being end as drawn games these days. in the case of coach for srilanka, I think Haturusinghe is the best we had. Unfortunatly we lost him for some reason. Rumesh and Champaka did nice job with our pace bowlers. I would like to see taking Vaas in to the coaching staff somehow. he got lot to offer for srilankan young pace bowlers.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (September 18, 2011, 3:54 GMT)

@Herbert, enjoyed your comments so true.

Posted by Rafelgibt on (September 17, 2011, 15:18 GMT)

Yes im agree with Sangaa that bigger teams must play at least 3 test matches with eachother. But smaller teams like NZ,WI, BAN, ZIM should play 2 test matches in a series against the bigger teams.

Posted by   on (September 17, 2011, 5:55 GMT)

Any sport draws upon how it is built and the rules need to change according to the time. Cricket needs to come prallel to other team sports that complete within three to four hrs. Crowd want excitement, not crcket history. 20/20 model provides that where almost all action can be seen within a short period. To the other: league cricket at national team level can be istaged in different countries and could be more exciting than a money bazaar staged under a single roof. My gut feeling is, this issue is sooner going to be raised, and perhaps from the same place it started.

Posted by   on (September 17, 2011, 4:51 GMT)

Ya thats true sanga,should play more test matches!

Posted by MacFry on (September 16, 2011, 22:39 GMT)

2 test series is alright if we can have more of them. India just played a 4 test series in England. It'll be 4 or 5 years before they come back to play another series. It'd be better if they played 2 test matches every couple of years. That way the teams will meet every year either at home or away. It'll be great for fans as well many of who have shorter attention spans.

Posted by anver777 on (September 16, 2011, 13:20 GMT)

I totally agree with Sanga,.. 3match is better than 2 since there is always a comeback for either team & more entertaining....... mostly i have noticed SL is treated with only 2 match series specially against top ranked teams.

Posted by VEXXZ on (September 16, 2011, 12:44 GMT)

It is a GIVEN FACT that the shorter version of the game is killing the TEST cricket which is THE REAL CRICKET . You can clearly see the ICC going to the FAST FOOD style 20/20 , and 50 over games to keep up with the USA style of playing a game . Test Cricket is a game for the FITTEST , someone who can THINK for HOURS and SURVIVE .

Posted by Sohailh on (September 16, 2011, 10:59 GMT)

Test Series should 3-match test series or 5-match test series. 2-Match test series is of no use... Senseless ICC...

Posted by Herbet on (September 16, 2011, 10:21 GMT)

As an example of what cricket is doing to itself, let me use Football as a comparison. Lets say somebody decided 90 minutes was too long and that 0-0 score lines were too common and too dull. So they decided to cut games down to 20 minutes, 10 minutes each way, make the nets 20% bigger and introduce a rule stating that for the first 5 minutes of each half you are only allowed to play 2 defenders behind a line 40 yards from the goal. Suddenly, possession play, patience, intricate passing, skill and flair become nothing in the mad rush to have a shot from anywhere to try and slam in as many goals as possible in the 20 minutes. Small skilful players, the Xavi's, Pirlo's, Robinho's and Messi soon become regarded as 'longer form specialists' and 'old fashioned' as they are sidelined in favour of powerful athletes who have thunderbolt shots and can sprint non stop for 20 minutes. Obviously this would never catch on because it would be a crude distillation of what football is. This is T20.

Posted by Herbet on (September 16, 2011, 9:52 GMT)

Its amazing how many people are unhappy with how cricket is being run; players, former players, fans, and yet, those in charge, the ICC and BCCI, ECB etc don't seem to care or want to do anything about it. Cutting a test series between Australia and South Africa to 2 tests to accommodate a Twenty20 competition is like cutting short the Football World cup in order to hold a couple of 5 a side demonstration games in India. Genuine actual cricket fans recognise that test cricket is cricket, limited overs has its place as an entertaining side show but it is not the main event. If this is what Indians, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, and TV company's, are after then can somebody point them in the direction of Baseball and leave cricket fans alone to enjoy our sport.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (September 16, 2011, 6:01 GMT)

Test always have and always will be the most important form of cricket. It has lasted for over 120 years. How long has ODI and T20 lasted? ODI's have lasted some 30 years, T20's barely 6... Last year, people were talking about how the ODI game might die or get changed and if something like that happens, all 30 years of cricket, WC champions, and so forth are lost and nobody would care. Test cricket will always survive, since it is the purest form of the game. Who remembers players that did well in the One Day arena? Nobody thinks of Joel Garner when they think of West Indies cricket... they think of malcolm marshall and michael holding

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 5:00 GMT)

Yes I am too agree with Sanga....the real cricket is test cricket.Every series must have five tests...T20 is the game of luck....for playing T20 you dnt any technique if its your day you will make runs quickly otherwise if you score runs less than balls still your looser...

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 4:19 GMT)

Lorgat and the other ICC guys were contemplating pressuring the TV operators to pay for the DRS, but they cannot pressure them to cover a 5 match series? Would any of the last 4 Ashes would have been as epic if they were 3-match series? Perhaps a case could be made for the Ashes 2006, but even so, a 5-0 whitewash is more appealing than a 3-0. All major Test series should have 5 matches, why should that privilege be granted to the Ashes only? Get rid of some of the meaningless tri-series and ODI series to make space for them.

Posted by Cricket_Froth on (September 16, 2011, 3:19 GMT)

I agree with Kumar Sangakarra - more Test cricket and more 3-5 Test series please. I much prefer Test cricket over other forms of the game. All these one day series and 20/20 competitions blur into one and are very boring now. We don't even bother watching them anymore. For example, recently in Australia we had a channel, which had a viewers choice option between Sri Lanka v Australia One Day match or England v India Test match. Despite being avid Australian fans we chose to watch the Test, because it's much better cricket. We simply need to do a better job of explaining and promoting the strategic, tactical and psychological warfare aspects of Test cricket. If we did that we'd win more fans and grow its popularity.

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 3:09 GMT)

I agree with Sangakarra. All test series should be at least 3 matches. However I feel to boost the development of other nations, a first-class fixture of 4 or 5 days against an associate nation should be a compulsory warm up game. Rather than playing the "A" team, a domestic side or "board XI" these series could really bring attention to associates with any tour of England beginning with a match against the likes of Ireland or Scotland, subcontinent games bringing nations like Afghanistan in to promote the advancement of these games as they can get constant experience around test playing nation teams.

Posted by landl47 on (September 16, 2011, 2:07 GMT)

Sanga is right, but whether cricket administrators will listen is another matter. India hasn't played a 5-match test series since the 1980s and these days the only 5-match series is the Ashes. There is the demand in both Australia and England for that, but I'm not sure whether the same is true anywhere else. Although players like Dravid and Sanga would love more tests, there are a lot of players, especially among those who are just coming up in the subcontinent, who are focussed on one-day and T20 cricket and have neither the technique nor the temperament for the first-class game. Raina is an example that springs instantly to mind. I hope the powers that be will realize that without the test game, the rest will die. T20 is a fad and ODIs are just poor man's tests. They are great for filling in the gaps, but if they are the only cricket available, interest will wither and die. Everyone remembers great test players- those who are only short format players are soon forgotten.

Posted by smudgeon on (September 16, 2011, 1:51 GMT)

I don't see much use in two-test series. I'd prefer to see a minimum of three tests, ideally five (but I understand scheduling & the inevitable rise of short-form cricket makes this unlikely to occur often). On a side note, Sanga really is one of the smartest & well-spoken cricketers around. Very rarely feel the need to disagree with what he says. Oh, and he does well with the bat, too :)

Posted by bobagorof on (September 16, 2011, 1:50 GMT)

@DRamenaden: I disagree about one-off matches. Too easily affected by the weather. Besides, I've been hanging out for each Test of the current SL-Aus series to start - to have only a single Test to look forward to would be very unsatisfying. The only time I can see one-off matches being viable is the example of Zimbabwe's return to Test cricket, to ease them back into things but now that they've had a couple it should be full 3-match series all the way. Iconic tours like Ashes should remain longer as there is tradition behind them and it also adds a small amount of variation to the calendar.

Posted by bobagorof on (September 16, 2011, 1:41 GMT)

In addition to the folly of 2-Test series, many countries no longer play sufficient warm-up matches to acclimatise to conditions before the first match. I recall in the late 90's that Pakistan was touring Australia (incidentally this was a 3-match series) and they played one warm up match. They were beaten heavily in the opening Test, but as the series progressed they got better and better - unfortunately it was too late and they ended up losing the series. Wasim Akram stated that they needed more time to settle in. Alas, a packed international calendar, now competing with domestic tournaments, means that we have gone in the opposite direction and cut series down to 2 matches. If a team loses a match, the best they can hope for is to draw the series... whereas there have been many fine series where a team is beaten but manages to claw their way back to win the remaining 2 matches and take the series. So much excitement and tension lost for the spectator because of scheduling. :(

Posted by mcs_095 on (September 16, 2011, 1:27 GMT)

One test series DRamenaden really? What a load of bollocks - why don't we just abandon test cricket completely if that is the best option!

All series should be either 3 or 5 test matches. It is ridiculous that the Oz SA series is 2 tests due to the skill-less form of the game taking over.

Cricket is killing itself with the vomit of a form of cricket that is T20. Hit and giggle cricket will kill the gracefulness and wonderful form of cricket that is test cricket. And when it does, many a fan like myself will be lost to the game forever.

T20 has its place, but it should not be the centre of attention like it is now.

Posted by RohanMarkJay on (September 16, 2011, 1:19 GMT)

He is right. Test Cricket is the best form of the game. Unfortunately, Test cricket is not very much appreciated in the subcontinent. I am talking India and Sri Lanka whose cricket public much more prefer the shortened versions of cricket 50 over and 20 over over Test Cricket. Only in England and to a slightly lesser extent in Australia is Test cricket truly appreciated and which brings in the crowds. Even in the 1990s in England when the England Team was losing more than winning matches. Test Cricket was well supported by British Public.Especially the 1993 and 1997 Ashes test series in England was well supported all five test matches. The same cannot be said for the rest of the cricket world especially the subcontinent, where test cricket in the last 10 years in particular has been poor. So you can't in a way blame the ICC for giving less test matches for India and Sri Lanka if the crowds in those countries don't turn up to watch test cricket. E.g. look at the last test in pallekelle.

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 1:18 GMT)

All touring sides should play a Test series of 3 matches, with possible exception of Ashes which could be 5 every 3 years.

Option for 5 ODI's to be played BEFORE the test matches. Option for 3 T20's to be played BEFORE any ODIs.

There should be no ODI only tours and no 3 cornered ODI series.

Posted by DCDC on (September 16, 2011, 1:07 GMT)

Sangakkara - About coaching, We do NOT agree. If local coaching expertise is brilliant, our club cricket should show that and our local game should be in different level. Reality is it isn't. Aussies play cricket in a different level, with research and application on innovation. If you say we are better than that. Sorry , we disagree. Modern day coach is a performance expert who brings players to their peak with strategy and innovation. If you know anyone in SL tell me more. As a SL player , players may like a SL coach because they will be in side their comfort zone.

My urge to SL cricket administrators, please find a tough, strategist, innovator who does not party with the boys but who focus on results.

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 0:42 GMT)

I've always thought test series should be standardised at 3 or 5 matches, also i don't think there is a need for two different short formats in international cricket. I'd also like to see a 2-tiered test match system, with tests being played between the teams placed 1-8, and between the teams placed 9-16, with the 9-16 teams being given regular opportunities to play 3 or 4 day first-class games against the 1-8 teams. Or, alternatively, retaining the current 10-team setup, but allowing the 11-16 placed teams the opportunity to play relatively regular 3-4 day first-class matches against the test teams.

Posted by brittop on (September 15, 2011, 22:04 GMT)

Of course there should be a minimum of three tests in any series. In an ideal world, all test series should be over 5 games, as this is the true test.

Posted by zico123 on (September 15, 2011, 21:01 GMT)

its a shame that presence of Champions League T20 has cut down Aus vs SA test series to 2 games! get rid of IPL and CL, too much of T20 is going on TV these days! its cricket overkill !

Posted by TheDoctor394 on (September 15, 2011, 20:21 GMT)

I could not agree more. Well said, Kumar.

Posted by dulabhai on (September 15, 2011, 20:04 GMT)

At least you guys get 2 tests in every series. BD doesn't even get more than 1 test in every couple of years. How can you expect a country to perform well when they get to play one test once in a while.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2011, 17:51 GMT)

I completely agree that two test series makes no sense. But, in Sangakkara's case the example cited by the writer does not make any sense. When a team trails in the first innings by almost 300 runs, does not face follow-on most possibly because opponent bowlers need rest and then while chasing a target in excess of 500, is reduced to 290 for 8, even though this performance is much better than the previous one, you cannot really call that "pushing the hosts".

Posted by Barcanque on (September 15, 2011, 16:58 GMT)

I agree that all Test series should be a minimum of three games.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2011, 16:42 GMT)

just like Hathurasinghe...its time that we Indian should think of Mohinder Amaranath as our head coach...he is a brilliant learner of d game..

Posted by Kula_Bowls_Inswing on (September 15, 2011, 16:33 GMT)

@Matt Poynting. I thoroughly agree. I've thought 2 test series were frustrating for a while now and that they should be banned, except for series involving Bangladesh and Zimbabwae. However, even this could stunt the development of these two test nations & perhaps they should play 3 tests a series minimum as well. While the ICC are at it, they might as well limit ODI series to 5 matches as well.

Posted by windiesyouth.12 on (September 15, 2011, 16:32 GMT)

another point to note is the completion of tests....umpires should try to ensure that the number of overs designated for a session is completed no matter what except in extreme circumstances

Posted by windiesyouth.12 on (September 15, 2011, 16:28 GMT)

@DRamenaden one off tests make no sense whatsoever....in order to judge the performance of teams atleast 3 tests are needed plus this would allow teams to bounce back.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (September 15, 2011, 15:49 GMT)

@DRamenaden, going to one off test matches is a waste of time, teams are far more at the whim of injuries. Though I do agree with sanga that the minimum games per series should be 3, and 5 test match series do still pull in the TV money, Look at the Ashes. I also think the final test in a series should have 2 Spare days alloted, especially if the series is drawn going into the last game.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2011, 15:31 GMT)

Great to read the Senior Players like Sangakara putting his preference on test Cricket First in this Money making era of T20,IPL and One day and yes Three Test match series must be minimum

Posted by Sinaha on (September 15, 2011, 15:23 GMT)

does it mean that high-profile players like him will give up the IPL for the sake of SL cricket, if needed? I doubt it, they are hell bent on making hay while the sun shines.

Posted by Danksl on (September 15, 2011, 15:22 GMT)

I know personally how good Haturusinghe as a Coach. He made most of the young cricketers. very talented and he should be in SL coaching not in NSW

Posted by   on (September 15, 2011, 15:16 GMT)

It is 5-match series that grip the imagination. 3-match series don't. A 2-match series is a contradiction in terms.My biggest memory of a 3-match series is India in England in 1971. After being saved by the weather in two matches India came from behind to win the third and find themselves top in unofficial rankings. I've no complaint about India's match win - that's part of the game, but a series win in such circumstances!! Possible, but less likely in five matches. If we ever do have a Test Match Championship it will have to be decided by a 5-match series. I know that's difficult to organize, but that's the only way it will have any meaning.

Posted by DwightR on (September 15, 2011, 14:40 GMT)

in terms of Sri Lankan home grown coaches...Attapatu is new into coaching given his only experience is only as batting coach for Canada and now recently Sri Lanka, but in a few years time..his temperament and mentality will be a perfect for an international team.

Posted by DwightR on (September 15, 2011, 14:37 GMT)

agree with sanga, 5 tests are no longer a viable options in todays world. its should be a 3 test series or my personal opinion and 1 off test match, can you imagine the intensity of a 1 off test match in say Aus v SA! if you want to keep test cricket relevant and exciting thats the way to go. especially if ICC is bringing in a test championship this would allow more test match between more countries. A perfect tour would be 3 T20's, 5 ODI's, 1 Test.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2011, 14:04 GMT)

Amen. Three tests should be the minimum.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2011, 14:02 GMT)

You can demand for a five test series when you start winning some matches. Or are you hoping that the opposition team would get lazy and complacent by the fifth test, they will actually allow you to win one ? First perform, then demand!

Posted by   on (September 15, 2011, 13:39 GMT)

yes totally agree with Sanga more tests less 50/50 or scrap them all together but keep 20/20 to a minimum. Tests are best

Posted by FreddyForPrimeMinister on (September 15, 2011, 13:37 GMT)

As always, Sanga speaks sagely. Two Tests are rarely a true reflection of the strength of both teams as it only takes one match where the weather intervenes, or one side has a poor day or decisions that go against them, and the fate of the series can be decided. Over the course of 4 or 5 Tests, the rub of the green tends to balance itself out and the better side will eventually prevail. Two Tests also don't allow those personal duels to develop over a full series and these "battles within a war" that are often as compelling as the match itself. As Sanga says, Test cricket is by far the pinnacle of the sport - make a name for yourself there and you make a name for yourself for life...

Posted by Ben1989 on (September 15, 2011, 13:32 GMT)

yes, always wondered why they even bother with a two test series, it's the best feeling obviously for a team to win a test series & two test serios don't really allow for that....

Posted by Pteris on (September 15, 2011, 13:30 GMT)

I agree, and have commented on it before, two test series are a travesty of what tests are supposed to be. That is a test to decide the better team. Another problem is the homogenizing of pitches. A test series used to be played on a series of grounds that favored different types of bowlers and styles of batting. We need that back too to provide a proper test of the two teams.

Posted by HatsforBats on (September 15, 2011, 13:17 GMT)

Great to hear such statements coming from a player of outstanding character and talent. Two test series are ridiculous. Also, the FTP needs to be scrapped and teams should play each other in turn. I am sick of suckling from the teat of India every 10 months when we haven't toured Sri Lanka for 7 years.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2011, 13:16 GMT)

Great to hear a Sri Lankan putting test cricket first. Just when I was beginning to lose faith that the sub-continent cared.

Posted by Nerk on (September 15, 2011, 13:07 GMT)

Good call Sanga. Test cricket is the ultimate form of cricket. And there should be more of it.

Posted by pradeepbhat on (September 15, 2011, 13:06 GMT)

one of the best statesman of the game.. very good suggestion

Posted by allblue on (September 15, 2011, 13:05 GMT)

I agree! Once again, one of the game's most articulate advocates defends the integrity of the game. The whole point is that if you lose the first match, you should still be able to win the series. It's almost better to just have a one-off match rather than an awkward non-series of two.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2011, 13:03 GMT)

Yes Sanga is right, it should be fair to all nations. Australia, England, South A and India get more TEST matches than others THAT IS TOTALLY unfair. ICC reconsider in this issue

Posted by davidallan on (September 15, 2011, 13:00 GMT)

Absolutly agree and throw out the champions leauge,IPL,BIG BASH,SLPL etc.

Posted by satanswish on (September 15, 2011, 12:59 GMT)

Sangakkara have gone bizzare!! Three match test series will prove fatal for SL as they are more likely to lose 2-0 in such series.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2011, 12:57 GMT)

he is right but with the packed international schedule and T20s, it will be the other way round which is sad. it is a reality we all have to accept.

sri lanka have felt the hard edge of the schedule recently when they have hardly played any tests which meant murali could not even get close to 1000 test wickets.

6 tests in 2008 and 6 in 2010 when they basically played 3 because the other 3 against the windies was washed out.

Posted by number-09 on (September 15, 2011, 12:56 GMT)

Always said 2 test was a waste. I would pick IPL over 2 test series anyday. As a spectator it is unsatisfying. I can live with 3.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2011, 12:55 GMT)

sanga played 100 test in 11 years. wow

Posted by   on (September 15, 2011, 12:33 GMT)

Totally agree with Sangakkara - Test cricket is dying and the authorities are helping it get there faster ...

Posted by Stark62 on (September 15, 2011, 12:33 GMT)

I completely agree!

Two match series is the same as having no series at all because it's most likely the outcome will be a draw.

Posted by alexbraae on (September 15, 2011, 12:27 GMT)

More tests please!!! Kumar is an excellent spokesman for Sri Lanka and the game as a whole. I hope he stays in cricket admin after retirement, he seems like an honest man too.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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