Jayawardene stresses the need to preserve ODIs

Dont mix T20 with international cricket, says former SL skipper

Jayawardene stresses the need to preserve ODIs

“I know there has been a lot of criticism of the 50-over World Cup, people saying let’s tone it down and get it down to 40 overs, or not have a World Cup at all, but why not?” the former Sri Lankan captain told Deccan Herald. “If you do so, you are taking away the entire history of 50-over cricket, the World Cups and the teams that have won it. I don’t think it’s good to do that. We have always maintained the culture and tradition of cricket for long, long years. Due to commercial restrictions and monetary benefits, you do need to make changes, but we can still have control and keep those traditions going forward.

“We need to find a way. If we don’t preserve that, we will be doing a lot of harm to all the players who did so much back then to take this game forward. If we don’t think about that as well, we are doing something wrong.”

One of only four players to have scored an international Twenty20 century, Jayawardene also cautioned against an overkill of T20 internationals. “Twenty20 is a great phenomenon, but it has already created that brand in itself,” the 33-year-old pointed out. “It is going to keep moving on, but let’s not mix it with international cricket. In my opinion, we need to keep it separate, take Test cricket and one-day cricket forward along with it.

“With the IPL and among counties in England, the Big Bash in Australia and all the other domestic tournaments, T20 is having a big impact. But I don’t know about playing international T20s. I don’t know whether we still have that hunger when we play a T20 match internationally, between countries. The World Cup is great but I feel the 50-over game is more attractive for me as an international match than a T20 international. That’s where we need to try and balance how we are going to use this. You can have your T20 World Cup, but don’t insist on playing too many T20 internationals in between. Maybe play one occasionally, and try and keep the concept of these franchises, the counties and all that growing. That way, you can take it much further and have a fan base like in football.”
The phenomenal growth of the Twenty20 game would not, however, keep cricketers away from Test cricket, Jayawardene insisted. “More and more youngsters will take up Twenty20 cricket, whether you like it or not, but you are also going to attract more people to the game,” he said. “That will mean you have enough cricketers to play Test cricket, you have enough cricketers to play one-day cricket and enough to play T20 cricket. What we will see is the era of the specialist players.

“We have to remember that we have ten Test-playing nations, and you need a squad of around 15 players per team,” he rationalised. “That means you need only 150 cricketers from so many countries to play Test cricket. I am sure you can find that. I don’t think we are going to lose the Test cricketers to T20 cricket. The best cricketers who are good at playing Test cricket will keep continuing to play Test cricket. I think we are just over-exaggerating. There will be those who are best at 50-over cricket, and those who are best at T20 cricket – they will be brilliant at it and you have to admire it. But there will be specialist Test cricketers who will carry the game forward. And the guys who have that extra bit of talent, they will play all three forms of the game. I don’t think we are going to lose out on Test cricket because if you break it down, at any point you only need 150 players.”

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