Without going into the stats, suffice it to say that Kumar Sangakkara is the greatest Test batsman of the modern era – that is, the last five years – not only the numbers, but the style, the grace.
He approaches cricket as it should be approached – as a game, a challenge, an art... a passion – he is always right there – no hidden agendas, no ego hassles or battles, just the simplicity of excellence. To watch him bat is to watch an artiste displaying his craft, not himself – 11 double-hundreds in Test cricket – 11. Just imagine the determination, the commitment, the skill involved in making 11 double-hundreds – and then imagine the Don, with 12 double-hundreds, at an average of just under one every four Tests he played (in the case of Sangakkara, it is about one every 12 Tests) but in both cases, or in the case of any great Test batsman, the sheer skill involved in making a double-century is so stunning, that to consider 11 or 12 is breathtaking.
May Sangakkara flow on and on – may he reconsider his retirement – and may he, with his lean grace, his even-tempered ease, bless the world of cricket for at least another season... how we need players like him, people like him – not only in Test cricket, but in life – and may the Sri Lankan cricketers continue to challenge us, to ask us questions about our game, our administration, our media, our obsession with cricket as a business.
Two Indian cricketers come to mind when I watch Sangakkara play – Gundappa Vishwanath and Rahul Dravid – they, too, played this great game of Test cricket with the minimum of personal show, and the maximum of artistic excellence.
And as Sangakkara battles on in New Zealand – no, not battles – but flows on, the fourth Test for us begins to the north. What a Test... a true Test – we will win it, and Indian Test cricket will move forward. That is not only what I predict, but what I believe. We need players like Vijay and Pujara and Rahane to play the Sangakkara way – and they will. And more than anything else – we need bowlers who will bowl with the discipline and art and skill with which Sangakkara bats. Over after over – on the spot – it can be done – maybe we should totally revamp our bowling attack – go with two seamers and two spinners – regular spinners – and an all-rounder – in name at least – in Raina – maybe Bhuvneshwar Kumar will play – I truly hope so – he would have made all the difference in this series – all the difference.
Whatever, it will be a Test to be remembered – a true Test...
I have always believed – and written – that Test cricket should have two groups – the top five in Group A, and the bottom five in Group B – and if a Group A team plays a Group A team, it should be a five-Test series – alas, we are now in Group B, ranked sixth in the world – and I believe that a Group A team versus a Group B series should be of only three Tests – so we are lucky to get four against Australia, ranked second – but just imagine if we were in the top-five, and this was a five-Test series – the series would still be open, and the Fourth Test would be even more testing.
But we are ranked sixth, and we have only ourselves to blame – we were number one at the beginning of 2011 – we are number six now -- enough said – sadly.
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Updated Date: Jan 06, 2015 06:20:51 IST