Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, has questioned the usefulness of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Test rankings system. The issue arose when he was asked about India's status as world No 1 even though they have not won a series in Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka since 1993. "If rankings can't be understood by the public, the players, or the administrators, what's the use of having rankings? If you want rankings, they should count towards playing a Test championship," Sangakkara said.
"Rankings need to be fairly done. Once every two years each side should play each other at least once, home or away. That's how you get a fair deal when it comes to Test cricket," he added. The current Test ranking system does not reward victories away from home. Points earned or lost are calculated based on the difference between where the teams stood before the start of the series. Until they lost an away series to India, Sri Lanka themselves were ranked No 2 last year without having won a Test in India, Australia and South Africa.
"I don't think we have played enough Test cricket away," Sangakkara said. "Two Test matches here, two Test matches there. I think that's not good. We need to play Tests regularly." Sangakkara said Sri Lanka were keen to find success on tours they have previously struggled on like India and Australia. "We have a very good balanced attack, pace and spin. From 2006 to 2009 we have done well. We have won in New Zealand, in England, and in Pakistan. South Africa, Australia and India are the three places that we need to win. "We need to play often in those places."
Meanwhile, Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lanka fast bowler who helped his side to a 10-wicket victory over India in the first Test on Thursday, has been rested on medical advice for the second Test that starts tomorrow. Malinga was rested on the advice of Tommy Simsek, the team physiotherapist, after the bowler complained of stiffness in his right knee, Aravinda de Silva, the chairman of selectors, said.
The 26-year-old, who only returned to the Test arena at Galle after having last played a Test match in December 2007 because of an injury to the knee, took five for 50 in India's second innings that helped his side to a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. "We have to be cautious with Malinga. He was not feeling quite fit to go through a five-day Test. He complained of stiffness in his knee," said De Silva.
Malinga will be replaced by Dilhara Fernando. Ajantha Mendis, who took six for 67 in a three-day game against India but was overlooked for the first Test, was named in the 16-man squad and could take the position of the now retired Muttiah Muralitharan. Mahela Jayawardene, the former captain, was named as Sangakkara's vice-captain to replace Muralitharan. "We want Mahela who has a good cricket brain to be part of the decision-making in the middle," said De Silva.