Dimuth Karunaratne wants to step down as captain after Ireland Tests next month
"I've talked to the selectors about this, but I haven't got a response yet"
Dimuth Karunaratne wants to step down as Test captain after the Ireland Tests next month. It is an ongoing conversation with the Sri Lanka selectors, who have not accepted his resignation yet. But after four years in the job, and with a fresh World Test Championship (WTC) cycle looming, Karunaratne - who turns 35 in April - wants to hand over to a new captain for the next cycle, with the Ireland Tests not a part of the current WTC.
"I've talked with the selectors about stepping down as captain after the Ireland series. In the next WTC cycle, you've got to do two years," Karunaratne said. "I think it's best if a new captain does that whole cycle than for me to do half and hand over. I've talked to the selectors about this, but I haven't got a response yet. My preference is to hand over to a new leader after the next series."
Karunaratne has led Sri Lanka to some stability after the turbulent period that had gone before. His greatest achievement as captain remains the 2-0 win in South Africa in 2019 - his first series in the role. No team outside of England and Australia have ever beaten South Africa at home.
All up, his record as captain so far is ten wins and losses each, and six draws. Only Sanath Jayasuriya, Arjuna Ranatunga, Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews have won more Tests as Sri Lanka captain, and they had all captained in at least 34 Tests. Part of his desire to step down as captain may be to focus on his batting, and perhaps to explore opportunities overseas, with Sri Lanka playing only two-Test series in the next WTC cycle.
Karunaratne had played grade cricket in Australia since his most-recent Test before the New Zealand series which ended earlier in the day after Sri Lanka were trumped by an innings and 58 runs in the second Test in Wellington. It had been a long Test hiatus, but he still managed three fifties in four innings in this series. Sri Lanka are scheduled to play six Tests in 2023, and only four of those count towards the next WTC.
"I played Tests after eight months. I only got to play one innings in a four-day match in between," Karunaratne said. "I'm someone who gets a big one after getting a start, so I think I don't have that patience at the moment, and I need to go back to domestic cricket and develop that again.
"After eight months, although I made some runs here, I could have done more, I think. Twice, I think I could have turned half-centuries into hundreds, and I wasted them."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf