No other openers have been in their class in terms of average. They were the openers chosen for the ICC’s Test team of the year, though Sri Lanka played only six Tests in 2023.
“Among openers, I think I’m in a pretty good place, compared to others internationally,” Karunaratne said after hitting 77 against Afghanistan. “But recently Usman Khawaja has been very good. He’s been consistent last year and the year before. What I’m trying to do is to compare myself to him year by year, and also to be in that World XI every year. When Khawaja plays, I follow the series – the Ashes, and even the recent West Indies series. I watch how he bats and what he does.
“You need these things to force you forward. Otherwise, when you don’t have a target, you don’t have that kick to improve.”
“Recently Usman Khawaja has been very good. He’s been consistent last year and the year before. What I’m trying to do is to compare myself to him year by year”
But 35 years old now, Karunaratne is also ticking off some major milestones that not many openers outside England and Australia (who tend to play the most Tests) get to. Numbers with zeros that follow them. The kinds of numbers you associate with the best.
“My first goal is to get to 100 Tests,” Karunaratne said. “That’s a great achievement for any Test cricketer. If I get there, I want to see how close I am to 10,000 runs, and then I’d try to push for that. At the moment my fitness is good. I’m trying to leave a good legacy in this format. I’m close to 7000 runs, and maybe in the next two or three years, I can get to that 3000 more. Those are my two goals, so I have to maintain my fitness and consistency.”
“Yes, I’m someone who is very aware of my stats and I compare that with others. There’s Sanath aiya, and then there’s Angelo after that. I am trying to get to my targets and then be able to look back after I retire and take satisfaction in that.
“It’s not enough to have played cricket and represented your national team. That’s why I love this format, because it gives me a lot of satisfaction. I want to try to pass all these legends one by one. I’ve been able to do that to some extent. I’m trying to do more.”