The talk of the IPL casting a cloud over Test cricket is back after Chris Gayle delayed his departure from the Indian Premier League to join the West Indies Test squad in England.
Respected for his generally rational views, Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara gives his take on the Test-T20 debate. Excerpts:
How do you see this T20 vs Test cricket talk and the stand taken by Chris Gayle?
If an individual player decides that he wants to play in a particular format of the game, it’s his decision. If a player wants to take a call on his career and future, he should have the right to do so. As far as I am concerned, Test cricket is the number one format. It’s the ultimate test of your ability, technique, mental capacity, endurance, fitness and everything.
But, at the same time, I want to play all formats of the game. I love T20, the IPL has been great for world cricket. I don’t think home boards have to worry too much about IPL hurting Test cricket which will remain the primary format.
Do you think it’s tough for the players to be in a situation where they have to make a choice?
I don’t think anyone has to make a choice. The IPL is played at a time when there is no cricket going on.
If there’s some cricket happening, then the players are bound by the contracts of their country and have to ensure they are available to represent their country.
I don’t think IPL has put anyone in a situation where they have to make a choice. I think home boards and ICC have to recognise that IPL has become a phenomenal success. So everyone’s got to hopefully try and make a window for it, and I think we have enough time for it.
What has IPL brought to cricketers?
It adds a lot. Players from different countries play together, there’s a lot of knowledge sharing, which is especially helpful to younger players. It’s a huge plus financially for all players concerned. At the same time it adds a new dimension to our game.
Do you find the criticism of the IPL a bit strange given that players are happy playing it, spectators are enjoying it, and it’s spinning money for everyone concerned?
You are never going to have anything that’s not criticised or debated. But at the same time, we have got to project the right image of the format, make sure everything’s done right and transparently, highest level of cricket is played, the highest standard of ethics and players behaviour on and off the field is maintained.
It’s fine for players and administrators to say that Test cricket is the highest form of cricket and need to be preserved. But can we dictate it to the public who’re obviously enjoying T20 more than Tests?
We can’t. They will watch what they like. We have got to find ways of building interest around Test cricket. I think there’s still a lot of interest for Test cricket in England and Australia, certain amount in India and Sri Lanka.
But we have to promote Test cricket, create a situation in the grounds where families can come and have a day out, have fun and be a part of the spectacle.
The ICC is already discussing host of proposals like night Tests, getting over rates up. I think it should still hold its traditional value and be the true, pure form of cricket that everyone enjoys.