LAUDERHILL, Florida, May 21 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara has demanded ‘equal opportunities’ in the playing of test cricket, saying chances for his country to play the five-day game were being reduced.
Sangakkara said he would welcome a World Test Championship, an idea being discussed within official bodies to give greater context to series, but said any new structure needed to give each team the same chances to play internationally.
“It’s great to have a test championship but I believe that all sides should have an equal opportunity to play test matches,” Sangakkara told Reuters, ahead of this weekend’s Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand in Florida.
“This year we are lucky that India wants to come and play test matches but the opportunity for Sri Lankan players to fulfil their test ambitions are getting more and more limited,” he said.
Sri Lanka is perceived as an unappealing touring side due to lower box-office appeal at the gate and on television, even though the team has been a consistent force in the international game over the past 15 years.
Since a two-test series in Australia in 2007, Sri Lanka’s opportunities for test tour have been limited to their own continent -- a two-test series in Bangladesh followed by two in Pakistan.
Sri Lanka will tour England in 2011 for the first time in five years and they have not played a test in South Africa since 2002.
“Sides must be given the opportunity to play a minimum number of test matches and the Future Tours Programme must be reorganised so some of the best sides tour more than just once in five years,” Sangakkara said.
Several different plans for a more competitive context for test series have been floated with the International Cricket Council (ICC) expected to hear from a working group looking into the issue in June.
“There was once talk of playing a test championship without Sri Lanka in the first year at a time when we were number two in the test rankings. These are the inconsistencies they must address.
“But I agree that a test championship is a great idea, another opportunity for the best to test themselves against the best,” he said.
Sangakkara’s team mate, leading batsman and former skipper Mahela Jayawardene, said a guaranteed minimum number of tests per year was needed.
“I think we need to think a bit more about test cricket, you need to make sure all the teams are going to play eight to ten matches a year minimum and then you can strike that balance.
“I’m up for it but the only question I will raise is if all the teams will get equal opportunity,” he said.
“I have only played four test matches in my entire career in Australia; that’s in 12 years of playing.” (Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email email@example.com)
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