Sangakkara believes Sri Lanka will suffer if they do not play more Tests in the future
Sri Lanka wicketkeeper batsman Kumar Sangakkara believes the national side need to see an increase in the number of Test matches they play per year in order to ensure that the format does not become extinct in the country.
Sri Lanka were initially supposed to have a busy Test season this year, but after cancelling five Test matches, ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals now make up a majority of the team’s schedule.
A two-Test series against the West Indies was the first to be scrapped since both cricket boards wanted to make their players available for the entire season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
After the Test series was cancelled, both boards agreed to replace it with an ODI tri-series involving India as well.
However, Sri Lanka had to cancel their three-Test series against South Africa as well in order for the tri-series to take place after the Champions Trophy in June.
The removal of Test matches during series have become a common theme for Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) lately as they removed one home Test against England in March last year and also replaced their two-Test series against India in July and August with a five-match ODI series.
Many of the senior players in the Sri Lanka side have expressed their frustrations at Test series constantly being cancelled, but veteran batsman Mahela Jayawardene actually defended SLC’s decision, stating that it was the right move financially, even though the board is currently swamped with debts.
Sri Lanka will now play no more than six Test matches this year, with four of them coming against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.
However, Sangakkara believes that only playing against bottom-ranked opposition will not help Sri Lanka’s cause in the future.
“I think each country should play a minimum of 10 to 12 Test matches a year,” Sangakkara said. “Hopefully 12 Test matches a year. We need to make sure that we find time to do that. I think players and administrators and everyone should really be together and talk on these things and understand that Test cricket is important. That’s the only way cricketers are going to improve.”
Sangakkara was also disappointed with the three-Test series against South Africa being postponed till 2015 since he, Jayawardene, opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan and middle order batsman Thilan Samaraweera are all likely to have retired by then.
“South Africa coming to Sri Lanka would have been a fantastic opportunity for us to try and beat the number one side in our own conditions,” Sangakkara added. “We have done that before. So it’s disappointing. Hopefully, there will be more Test matches played and more thought put into scheduling and having a discussion as to how we fit in ten to 12 Test Matches a year.”
The wicketkeeper batsman believes that the dwindling number of Test matches played per year will also have a detrimental impact on other Test specialists such as Prasanna Jayawardene, Chanaka Welegedara and Suraj Randiv.
“It’s not just disappointing for them, even for us,” Sangakkara said. “Whatever the form you play, you want to play more Test cricket. So hopefully after next year we can be more proactive in our scheduling and we can talk on which countries are willing to come and play and how are we going to schedule Test cricket so that it is kept as the ultimate form of the game.”