Sri Lanka in Australia 2012-13 December 12, 2012

Angelo Mathews ready for Test captaincy


Angelo Mathews has expressed enthusiasm for the leadership role and appears ready to take over the captaincy once Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's current Test captain, steps down. Jayawardene accepted the post reluctantly in January and has seemed eager to be rid of the reins ever since. He has hinted he will step down after the tour of Australia as long as Sri Lanka avert disaster there, and his deputy's apparent willingness to take over will only make that move easier.

Mathews is already Sri Lanka's Twenty20 captain and has been groomed for the role in the longer formats. He arrives in Australia in form, having been the team's top-scorer in the home series against New Zealand, and has seen his Test batting bloom over the last 18 months. 

He has been the vice-captain in all formats since July 2011, and in the SLPL, he led the Nagenahira Nagas to the final of the competition.

Mathews' unflinching attitude and an expanding reputation for even-headedness under pressure have made him appear much more like captaincy-material than at the end of Kumar Sangakkara's tenure, when he was considered for the role, but lost out to Tillakaratne Dilshan.

"I think that's totally up to the selectors - if they think I'm ready for the captaincy, I'm ready," Mathews said. "It doesn't really matter for now because Mahela's been a great captain for years and I think he's been serving the country for decades. But if the selectors think I'm ready - it's up to them."

If he does succeed Jayawardene after the tour, and there are no retirements, he will lead a side with three former captains and several other players senior to him in age, if not always in international experience. At 25, Mathews may be leading one of Sri Lanka' oldest Test sides, but he said he sees the older players' presence as a boon, rather than a challenge. Indeed, the prospect of having time to mentor Mathews in the initial phase of his captaincy has been the reason Jayawardene has cited for wanting to relinquish the captaincy before he retires.

"When I initially got into the team, there were so many captains. Sanath Jayasuriya was there, and now we have Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela. They teach us a lot and we can always go back to them to ask questions, and they're always willing to help out. There's a lot we can learn from Mahela."

Mathews has been penetrative with the ball in ODIs, but has performed more of a holding role in Tests, where he has been economical, but far less incisive. Jayawardene has said Mathews will continue to be kept low in the order to accommodate contributions with the ball, and Mathews was keen to bowl more overs in this series. 

"I've been managing myself on different conditions, and Mahela has been pretty good with that. In Australia, the conditions might suit my bowling and I'm hopeful of bowling plenty of overs."

Mathews also offered some insight into the team's makeup for the first Test, which begins on Friday, marking out left-hander Dimuth Karunaratne as the more likely partner to Dilshan at the top of the innings, over Tharanga Paranavitana. Karunaratne made his debut against New Zealand in Galle last month, hitting a run-a-ball unbeaten 60 in the second innings, after failing to score in the first.

"Dimuth is a very aggressive player, he always looks to score runs, while Paranavitana has been having a pretty bad run in the recent past. I think Dimuth has a slight edge, but we haven't decided on anything."

He was less hopeful of Dinesh Chandimal's chances though, despite his good ODI record in Australia. 

"Unfortunately I can't see Chandimal getting into the team for this Test. We'll have to see how it goes with the batters. He's been batting really well in the nets, so it's just that we won't be able to give him a chance this time."

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Prashan on December 14, 2012, 15:58 GMT

    @Bruisers, Indians are pure flat track bullies as they just cant bat on cement surfaces. Never in the history of SL cricket have we lost 8 away tests in a row. India will get thrashed in 2 days in a test match if DRS is used. No wonder BCCI opposes DRS, HAHA.

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    once Anji becomes captain better to rotate the seniors like Dilshan, Mahela, Sanga, Thilan and Herath with young players like Chandimal, Dimuth, Akila, Lahiru, and any other good batters around the club circuit.. otherwise SL will have a tough time like the current Indian team with mass retirements hapenning at the same time... hope the selectors take notice and act accordingly.. its time to give youngsters a chance before too late..

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2012, 15:56 GMT

    Its time .................

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    I think Matthews is a good choice because Sanga, Dilshan, Mahela are on the way out. He also averaged 40 with the bat, but needs to do more. He is not an allrounder!

    Also, having him as captain has wider issues. South Africa have had a black captain, West Indies have had an Indo captain, England have had an Indian captain, India has had a Muslim captain. Sri Lanka having a Tamil captain is historic.

    Anyway, who cares? We are the same, descendants of some apes back in east africa not that long ago.

  • thumula on December 13, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    @laurance1000 what are you talking about mate.... he's already named as Sri lanka's t20 captain and he was leading the side for the only t20 between Nz and SL which was abundant due to the rain.... cricinfo please stop publishing these kind of rubbish comments.....

    I heard that Ganguli saying Indians cant expect Pujara to be a Dravid, becouse Dravid get approx 15 yrs to become what he is.... and I think same logic applies here..... We cant expect another Arjuna or Mahela from Anji before giving enough time to him....

  • Deepak on December 13, 2012, 11:26 GMT

    Is there atleast one young cricketer of international standards in the current SL team? Obviously not. Mathews is just another overhyped player who injures himself all the time unable to cope up with the needs of the game. Batsmen like Thirimanne are found in each and every street of Auckland. The so-called fast bowlers are even more pathetic. Spinners? Well, get off the back of the ageing Herath now and we'll see.. This pathetic team couldn't even beat NZ at home.. Haha.

  • Shamalka on December 13, 2012, 8:30 GMT

    I invite sudharaka, DCDC and Ranil Herath - Kent to learn atleast the ABC of the game and then comment on a forum like this. We're talking about an international game. Not about street cricket. Pls follow the game closely without vomiting your baseless thoughts here.

  • Teran on December 13, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    Rubish !! he is not even a test cricketer !!! should not be included even in the test team. See what happens to the media hyped Mathews.

  • Shamalka on December 13, 2012, 5:52 GMT

    Mathews deserves the captaincy of all formats by all means! Hope he'll get it! All the Mathews!

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2012, 1:10 GMT

    It is sa that Chandimal has to suffer while Prasanna who has strong relations with the chief selectors and seniors keep playing although he isnt good enough evn for SL A team..

  • No featured comments at the moment.