After the Ireland Test next month, Dimuth Karunaratne will leave his position as a captain

For 26 Tests, Sri Lanka was led by Dimuth Karunaratne

After the Ireland Tests later this month, Dimuth Karunaratne wants to leave his position as Test captain. The Sri Lankan selection committee is still in discussion with him and has not yet accepted his resignation. 

Karunaratne, who turns 35 in April, has held the position for four years, but with a new World Test Championship (WTC) cycle approaching and the Ireland Tests not being a part of the current WTC, he wishes to pass the reins to a new captain for the next cycle.

“I’ve talked with the selectors about stepping down as captain after the Ireland series. In the next WTC cycle, you’ve got to do two years,”

Karunaratne said. 

“I think it’s best if a new captain does that whole cycle than for me to do half and hand over. I’ve talked to the selectors about this, but I haven’t got a response yet. My preference is to hand it over to a new leader after the next series.”

After the previous difficult time, Karunaratne has guided Sri Lanka to some stability. His 2-0 victory in South Africa in 2019—during his maiden series in the position—remains his biggest success as captain. South Africa has never been defeated at home by a team other than Australia and England.

Ten victories, ten losses, and six draws make up his overall record so far as captain. Only four other Sri Lankan captains—Santhath Jayasuriya, Arjuna Ranatunga, Mahela Jayawardene, and Angelo Mathews—have led their country to more victories in tests; each of them led in at least 34 of them. 

Because Sri Lanka will only play two Test series in the upcoming WTC cycle, part of his intention to step aside as captain may be to concentrate on his batting and possibly explore chances overseas.

After losing by an innings and 58 runs in the second Test in Wellington, Sri Lanka, Karunaratne had played grade cricket in Australia since his most recent Test before the New Zealand series, which ended earlier in the day. 

Even though he had not played in a Test match in a while, he nevertheless made three fifty-plus scores in this series’ four innings. In 2023, Sri Lanka has six Test matches scheduled, although only four of them will count toward the World Test Championship.

“I played Tests after eight months. I only got to play one innings in a four-day match in between,” Karunaratne said. “I’m someone who gets a big one after getting a start, so I think I don’t have that patience at the moment, and I need to go back to domestic cricket and develop that again.

“After eight months, although I made some runs here, I could have done more, I think. Twice, I think I could have turned half-centuries into hundreds, and I wasted them.”

Sri Lanka squad for first Test against Ireland: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kamindu Mendis, Nishan Madusha (wk), Sadeera Samarawickrama (wk), Ramesh Mendis, Prabath Jayasuriya, Dushan Hemantha, Lasith Embuldeniya, Asitha Fernando, Vishwa Fernando, Milan Rathnayake

Ireland squad for first Test against Sri Lanka: Andrew Balbirnie (Capt), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, Murray Commins, George Dockrell, Fionn Hand, Graham Hume, Matthew Humphreys, Tom Mayes, Andrew McBrine, James McCollum, Paul Stirling*, PJ Moor, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Ben White.