Kumar Sangakkara calls for minimum Test pay for all countries to stop young players ditching the longest format

Sangakkara praised the shorter format for spreading the game's popularity to new markets but warned that without change Test cricket could face a battle to remain relevant

AFP, February 07, 2018

Hong Kong: Sri Lankan veteran Kumar Sangakkara has called for Test cricket to introduce a minimum match fee for all countries to stop young players ditching the long-form for lucrative Twenty20 leagues.

Sangakkara, the fifth-highest run scorer in the history of Test cricket, retired from the first-class game last year but has continued playing for domestic T20 franchises around the world, including in this week’s Hong Kong T20 Blitz.

The 40-year-old praised the shorter format for spreading the game's popularity to new markets but warned that without change Test cricket could face a battle to remain relevant for young players and fans.

File image of Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara. REUTERS

File image of Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara. REUTERS

"T20 is the ideal format to introduce — you talk about the Americas, with China," Sangakkara told AFP on Wednesday.

"Since its inception it's been a huge pillar of strength for world cricket.

"But there are a few negatives, a lot of young players are taking up T20 instead of playing international cricket.

"There are various things that have been discussed, about parity of pay, especially when it comes to match fees for Test cricket.

"Shouldn't there be a blanket minimum pay for Test cricketers?

"The top countries are being paid a certain Test match fee, shouldn't that be reflected all throughout the Test-playing countries?"

Currently, international match fees paid to cricketers from different Test nations vary wildly, with the sport's so-called "Big Three" — India, England and Australia — far ahead of the rest.

According to a survey last year by ESPN CricInfo, Australia's captain Steven Smith was due to earn $1,469,000 in 2017 while Zimbabwean skipper Graeme Cremer pocketed just $86,000.

Twenty20 competitions have sprung up around the world, from Australia's Big Bash League and India's IPL which stretch out over many weeks to smaller competitions in Hong Kong, Bangladesh, and the UAE which last just a few days.

Tests 'the pinnacle' 

Players from poorer nations can often earn more in the Twenty20 world than by representing their countries at Test level.

The MCC world cricket committee last month endorsed calls for wage reform at its annual meeting.

Fans as well as players need to be canvased on the changes required to keep Test cricket as the sport's pinnacle, including day-night and four-day Tests, said Sangakkara.

"We need to understand what Test cricket means to players and what it is to fans," he said.

"Relevance in sport is so important in terms of not just growing the sport but also sustaining it.

"I think international cricket is very strong still. For any player, I think the honour of representing their country be it in Test, one-dayers or T20 cricket, it's still the pinnacle of the game."

Sangakkara, who is appearing for Galaxy Gladiators Lantau in this week’s Hong Kong tournament, also praised the shorter format for extending his career.

"T20 is definitely the easiest format at my age to stay competitive in," said Sangakkara, who retired from the first-class game in September.

Sangakkara went out at the top with a remarkable final flourish for Surrey in the English county championship, finishing as the competition's top scorer with 1,491 runs at an average of 106.50.

"I'm definitely a has-been!" he joked.

Updated Date: Feb 07, 2018

T20 LEAGUE POINTS TABLE

Pos. Team P W L D Pts.
1
Hyderabad
14 9 5 0 18
2
Chennai
14 9 5 0 18
3
Kolkata
14 8 6 0 16
4
Rajasthan
14 7 7 0 14
5
Mumbai
14 6 8 0 12
6
Bangalore
14 6 8 0 12
7
Punjab
14 6 8 0 12
8
Delhi
14 5 9 0 10




Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3499 125
2 South Africa 3589 112
3 Australia 3499 106
4 New Zealand 2354 102
5 England 3511 98
6 Sri Lanka 2914 94
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 5257 125
2 India 5492 122
3 South Africa 3842 113
4 New Zealand 4602 112
5 Australia 3327 104
6 Pakistan 3279 102
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 2990 130
2 Australia 1894 126
3 India 3932 123
4 New Zealand 2542 116
5 England 1951 115
6 South Africa 2058 114