December 2009
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Benj Moorehead: Sri Lanka Untested

December 7th, 2009 by Benj Moorehead in International, Test cricket, sri lanka

“We are being deprived of Test cricket,” says Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara. “The young guys in our side are desperate to perform at the highest level, and that means Test cricket.”

You can see his point. The series with India now over, a well-beaten Sri Lanka’s next Test will be against West Indies in November 2010. That three-match series will be the only Tests Sri Lanka play in the next 17 months.

It isn’t just the Sri Lankan players who are missing out. We, the fans, are being deprived of seeing a fantastic pool of talent. Tillakaratne Dilshan is an exciting run-a-ball opener who offers far more than the Dilscoop. Sangakkara is a batsman of panther-like grace deserving of far greater exposure. Mahela Jayawardene has every shot (bar the Dilscoop). Thilan Samaraweera, meanwhile, has quietly snuck along to a plus-50 average in 57 Tests.

The bowling may have suffered from Chaminda Vaas’ retirement and Murali’s demise (how sad to see him suddenly seem so harmless). But Malinga the Slinger is only 26. Then there’s the finger-flicker, Ajantha Mendis. His unorthodoxy no longer surprises opponents – he was even left out of two of Sri Lanka’s recent Test matches with India. But there’s more to come, surely.

We shall see little of all this, at least in Tests. Part of the problem, no doubt, is that Sri Lanka aren’t a very good draw for the other Test nations, particularly those outside of Asia. Their last 15 Tests have all been in the sub-continent and only nine of their last 43 have been elsewhere. Sri Lanka have played just two Tests against Australia and two against South Africa since August 2004.

It is hard to take the ICC’s Test rankings seriously when a team full of talents are not tested in a variety of conditions against a variety of opponents, when they don’t even have that basic right: to play the game. And the problem isn’t exclusively Sri Lankan; India, fresh from becoming the No.1-ranked Test team, play just two Tests – against Bangladesh – in the next year.

Benj Moorehead is editorial assistant of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in International, Test cricket, sri lanka | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Benj Moorehead: Sri Lanka Untested”

  1.   Shaun Ellingham says:

    Lankans crying wolf here I’m afraid. They pulled out of a 3 test tour of England last year because they wanted to play in the IPL. To say they arent a draw outside of Asia is being disingenuous, they would rather claim money from IPL, KFC Big Bash and other cash rich events.

  2.   Merlin says:

    @ Shaun Ellingham:

    Actually Sri Lanka was never scheduled to tour England. ECB wanted Sri Lanka to fill in the Zimbabwe void after your government chose not allow Zimbabwe to tour. Sri Lankan players don’t put aside lucrative contracts to be a fill in for England.

    @ Benj

    Spot on. Sri Lanka tour Australia once in a blue moon, and that too for short tours where they never have time to acclimatise. I would say Australia’s dominance in Test cricket has a lot to do with the weight their Cricket board carries. The same can be said about India now. When these nations tour, they play several practise matches in the touring country prior to playing a Test match. The same can’t be said about the other nations, whose Cricket Boards have to put up with what they get.

  3.   Sri Lanka Cricket says:

    Sri Lanka has 12 tests if, I’m not mistaken, in a short span of time. Sangakkara must’ve forgotten to check the FTP.

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