Sri Lanka news October 9, 2013

Tillakaratne Dilshan to quit Tests

Sri Lanka batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan is set to retire from Test cricket. A Sri Lanka Cricket media release on Wednesday stated that Dilshan will hold a press conference on Thursday to make a formal announcement.

"I have taken this decision to allow Sri Lanka Cricket to groom another youngster in my place," Dilshan, 36, said on Wednesday. "I was to announce my retirement after the Zimbabwe Test series but unfortunately the tour was postponed."

Sri Lanka was to tour Zimbabwe from October and the tour itinerary included two Tests. The aggressive opener made his Test debut in 1999 against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo and scored 163 in his second match. In a Test career spanning 14 years, Dilshan played 87 Tests and scored 5492 runs at an average of 40.98.

His 16 Test centuries included a career-best 193 against England at Lord's in 2011 as captain.

Dilshan will continue to play in the shorter formats for his country, however. "I will discuss my future with the national selectors and if they need me I will play till the 2015 World Cup," Dilshan said.

Dilshan had suggested he was nearing the end of his Test career as early as December last year, during the Australia Test series, in which he made the highest score, with 147 in Hobart. He had also hit a hundred in Galle, during his last Test series in March.

He is the first of the three senior players to quit Tests, and his departure will create further problems for Sri Lanka at the top of the order, where Sri Lanka have struggled to find a consistent opening partner for him in recent years.

Dimuth Karunaratne has shown promise in that position during the last year, but with the selectors having seemingly jettisoned Tharanga Paranavitana and Upul Tharanga from their long-term plan for Tests, Sri Lanka will now likely have to blood another opener, before Karunaratne has secured his place in the team.

With seven away Tests approaching in the first half of 2013, Dilshan's retirement will place added pressure on Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, with middle-order batsmen Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal also in the early stages of their Test careers.

Sri Lanka also lose their best fielder in Dilshan, as well as an off-spin option. He has 39 Test wickets at an average of 43.87.

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