Sangakkara backs spinners to succeed
Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, has backed his spinners to succeed in the upcoming three-Test series against West Indies that begins in Galle on November 15. Sri Lanka will be playing their first full Test series after the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan but Sangakkara, while admitting that winning Tests without Murali would be tough, said the current attack comprising Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis and Suraj Randiv was capable of delivering the desired results.
"It is always going to be tough playing Test cricket without Murali," Sangakkara told reporters in Colombo. "We found that out in the second and third Tests against India. The challenge for anyone coming in and trying to fill those shoes is huge. The best way they can go about is to be themselves not try to be another Murali because that is impossible."
Murali retired from Test cricket on a high, finishing with 800 wickets and helping his team win and take a 1-0 lead against India earlier in the year. However, India fought back in the next two Tests at the SSC and the P Sara Oval, eventually levelling the series.
"I think for us as well the expectations of performance [from the spinners] has to be realistic," Sangakkara said. "For them to come in share the load with the other bowlers and make sure they chip in with what they do best as spinners is to try and take wickets and win matches for us. We have very able spinners in Randiv, Mendis and Herath to match any opposition in the world. They will learn and learn very quickly. We as a side will have to change our thinking and expectations a bit as well to manage that. They are very capable of doing the job required of them."
Sri Lanka enjoy a 6-3 advantage over West Indies in Tests and beat them 2-0 when they last played them at home in 2005. However, Sangakkara warned against any complacency. "We expect nothing less but the best from the West Indies and hopefully we can match them and go beyond," he said. "West Indies have always been a very competitive side. I enjoyed playing them in Sri Lanka and the West Indies. It took us a long time to register our first Test win in the West Indies even though we have beaten them at home. The challenge is still the same to go out there and win Test matches."
Sangakkara also called on Sri Lanka Cricket to introduce measures to draw more spectators to venues hosting Test cricket. "In Sri Lanka the trend we have seen that in the outstations you'll always get more spectators coming to see the cricket," he said. "In Colombo a lot more homes have televisions than in the outstations so a lot more people will actually stay at home to watch.
"Also facilities at grounds should encourage families to come and spend the day with their children and make sure they will be looked after free to enjoy a day's cricket. All of these things have to be in all the stadia in Sri Lanka to ensure that more and more people will come to watch.
"If we can have big screens at the grounds with facilities of replays I think we can attract even more."
West Indies begin their tour with a three-day warm-up game on November 10. The teams then play three Tests, five ODIs and a Twenty20 international.