Influence of shorter formats has made Test cricket exciting to watch: Sangakkara

Abu Dhabi, 11 Jan: Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara feels the advent of shorter formats has made Test cricket more exciting to watch as players are adopting an aggressive approach and deploying new shots in the red-ball games.

Players are increasingly seen playing shots like the reverse sweep and approaching Test matches with a mind set similar to the one seen in T20s and ODIs.

‘If you see change in terms of scoring rates and different shots we see like reverse sweep, the paddles, the attacking mind sets, all are the result of the shorter versions. You can see the trend continues in Test cricket and it is much more exciting to watch,’ Sangakkara said during a virtual interaction facilitated by Abu Dhabi T10.

Rishabh Pant’s brilliant counter-attacking 97-run knock studded with 12 fours and three sixes off 118 balls in the third Test against Australia on Monday and Ben Stokes’ victory-snatching 135 not out at Headingley in 2019 Ashes series could be seen as examples of the influence shorter formats are having on Test cricket.

The former wicketkeeper-batsman also highlighted the ‘beautiful’ contrast between the batting styles of Pant and and the rock-steady Cheteshwar Pujara.

‘You have batsmen like Pant really upping the ante and it’s great to watch along with the traditional types like a Pujara,’ said Sangakkara, who will be mentoring Team Abu Dhabi in the Abu Dhabi T10, starting January 28.

‘It is great to see how beautifully two different players with different mindset and technique can co-exist in one team. It is the same for formats as well,’ he added.

Recently, there has been a lot of debate around the wicketkeeper’s slot in the Indian Test team. While Pant is explosive with the bat, Wriddhiman Saha has proven to have a safe pair of hands behind the stumps.

Asked how one should approach the twin responsibilities, Sangakkara said: ‘Practice. If your keeping is not up to standards, work hard on your keeping, improve it. There is no way around it. You just have to spend a bit more time, plan better and be smart about your practice ‘It is the same for a specialist keeper who has to support his team by batting whatever number he bats. Improve your batting and do the job for your side.’ The 43-year-old said if a player is not willing to be ‘mediocre’ in any of the two departments of batting and keeping, he should put in the hard yards and correct the technique.

Sangakkara also weighed in on the debate surrounding the use of a short-pitch bowling, saying he would love to have an additional bouncer as it would keep the batsman guessing and spice up the proceedings.

‘Another bumper, short ball in T20 cricket will be extremely exciting. There have been debates whether the bouncer will go completely out of the equation. But a second one really keeps the batsman guessing and will be a great addition and more exciting,’ he said. (PTI)