SRI Lankan cricket faces a mammoth rebuilding task with star batsman Thilan Samaraweera the latest veteran to reveal he is weighing up his future in the Test arena.
Just a week after Mahela Jayawardene announced he would resign as captain after the Australian series, Samaraweera heads into the Boxing Day Test admitting he is contemplating retirement.
A veteran of 79 Tests, Samaraweera has amassed 5439 runs at a world-class 50.36 but says he could pull the pin after Sri Lanka’s two-Test home series against Bangladesh in March.
Dashing opener Tillakaratne Dilshan, 36, is another veteran considering walking away, a scenario that could strip Sri Lanka of their three most senior batsmen over the next 12 months.
“I will play these three Test matches in Australia and two in Sri Lanka in February and then I will see (if he plays on),” said Samaraweera, who turns 37 next September.
“After that we don’t have any Test cricket until October or November, I have to play some competitive cricket because at my age your reflexes get slower and you have to keep playing.
“I have to decide how much longer I can play because we have a long break. It’s very hard to see how many years I can go on.”
Samaraweera, whose career was nearly ended after he was shot in the Lahore terrorist attack in 2009, admits the scrutiny on older players intensifies with every passing year.
“It’s not so much those you lose your reflexes completely, but at a certain age people expect you to perform every game,” he said.
“If you are a youngster you can fail in two or three series, but as you get older into your 30s you have to score runs or the pressure comes and the media focus on you.
“Look at Ricky Ponting, he didn’t need to prove himself, he had scored 25,000 first-class runs, but because of his age everyone focuses on that when he fails.
“You have to keep doing well or people say the youngsters are ready to replace you.
“You can’t control those things, all you can do is control how you perform.”
Dilshan dismissed suggestions Sri Lanka was lurching towards a playing crisis with the impending departure of himself, Jayawardene, Samaraweera and Kumar Sangakkara.
“Sri Lanka cricket is in good hands,” he said.
“Angelo (Mathews) is being groomed as a senior player and there are good youngsters coming through.
“In a few years myself, Mahela and Sangakkara will have to retire and it will give other guys a chance.
“We will see what happens, I want to finish this series first and then I will decide what I am going to do next year.
“It’s a new year in 2013, but I haven’t decided anything yet, I will discuss things with my family and then make a decision.” (Daily Telegraph)