Sri Lanka in Australia 2012-13

Angelo Mathews ready for Test captaincy

Andrew Fernando in Hobart

December 12, 2012

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

Angelo Mathews pushes it to the off side, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Colombo, 5th day, November 29, 2012
Angelo Mathews' unflinching attitude and an expanding reputation for even-headedness under pressure have made him appear much more like captaincy-material © Associated Press

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

RSS Feeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Sinhaya 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.

Posted by   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..

Posted by   on (December 13, 2012, 15:56 GMT)

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

Posted by   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.

Posted by kirikat 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....

Posted by Bruisers 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.

Posted by MelbourneMiracle 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.

Posted by DCDC 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.

Posted by MelbourneMiracle 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!

Posted by   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..

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (December 12, 2012, 23:06 GMT)

Lasith Malinga, who just took 6/7 in 4 overs in a T20 match in Australia, is not in the test squad. That is a great pity.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 23:01 GMT)

Chandi was wicket keeper batsmen y he didn't consider over prasanna.

Posted by landl47 on (December 12, 2012, 21:48 GMT)

Sri Lanka, with Dilshan (36), Sanga (35), Mahela (35) and Samara (36) has one of the most experienced middle orders in the history of cricket. Unfortunately, they're all likely to retire together at some time in the next 2 or 3 years. Only Chandimal and Mathews himself seem to be of test class among their likely replacements. Given that SL's bowling isn't strong, and their best bowler, Herath, is 34 and hasn't done much outside the subcontinent, Mathews seems likely to be taking on a side with a long rebuilding phase in front of it.

Posted by Herath-UK on (December 12, 2012, 18:43 GMT)

Hope selectors are a little more conservative here.Plunging a young chap into the role of the captain in a team with many seniors could be problamatic ;England's problems are well known,he could be retained as T20 captain with Samaraweera/Prasanna doing honours until further maturity. Ranil Herath - Kent

Posted by chamil111 on (December 12, 2012, 17:58 GMT)

Lets see whats gonna happen after auzis tournament. Mathew is the only perfect choice for captancy after mahela, we wanna see good fighting spirit form you mathews.

Posted by sudharaka on (December 12, 2012, 17:31 GMT)

Angelo Mathews is NOT ready for Test captaincy yet, PERIOD.

Posted by late--cut on (December 12, 2012, 17:22 GMT)

Wow..That's the spirit Mathews..ready to take the wheel. You've already shown the great qualities , a skipper should possess. Godspeed bro!!!!

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 12, 2012, 16:06 GMT)

Well well Angelo you are too injury prone. You have to be an all rounder and not just a batsman. Hope your injuries will not keep recurring.

Posted by Prema1948 on (December 12, 2012, 15:58 GMT)

1st Cl Bat, Ave of 45 at present. Interestingly, none of the 3 seniors had careers like him as youngsters. (One may always find dozen of better batters of solid technique than 3 seniors)The 3 have always been very inconsistent performers because it is not possible to maintain any level of consistency when one's stroke making isn't that solid. Every year SL produces one or two batters of S'weera's class that should be absorbed into the National Side who can replace any under-performing seniors, but it doesn't take place with this Jokers those who hate batters of Attapattu's, Samaraweera's class. Therefore batting under trying circumstances against quality bowlers has always become a nightmare for risky stroke making front liners of Jokers of SL.

Posted by Prema1948 on (December 12, 2012, 15:57 GMT)

SL is an inconsistent team mainly due to the Jokers who were in office for the last 25 years. Selections at any level are meant for batters (past 1st Class Players) who have had successful careers. Unfortunately the SL's selection has been in the hands of bunch of jokers as a result the SL's front-line has always been filled with reckless risky stroke-makers that offer 3-4 straight forward chances to score a 50. This was the trend since 2007 in which period we have hardly won a series. SL is the only country where the selectors keep a blind eye for consistent performances of promising youngsters. e.g. Bhanuka Rajapaksha has been among the Best 10 schoolboy batsmen of the year, since his age of 15 and finally he won the Best Schoolboy Cricketer of the year award twice (for his Batting skills) in 2010 & 2011, he was among the leading batters in the Youth WC held in NZ 2010 as well and not only that he carries a (TO BE CNTD)

Posted by jimbond on (December 12, 2012, 14:51 GMT)

I like Sri Lanka's tradition of seamlessly transferring captaincy, and then with the ex captain playing under the new one with few ego issues. That said, I am not very convinced about the credentials of Mathews as a test allrounder. His batting is okay, but his bowling is hardly penetrative in tests. In ODIs and T20 he may be considered an allrounder but not in tests.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 14:43 GMT)

chandimal must give a match he is a fighter,

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 12, 2012, 14:29 GMT)

Some times when the future is uncertain, this is the kind of attitude young players should show. I like what I see in Mathews. He's a positive guy. This is something missing in Indian team. Nobody wants to take up responsibility and try to take the team forward. SL too are approaching a similar phase as India when both Mahela and Sanga have to step down. This is when the team's character shines though. Good on you Angelo ! Take up that captaincy and try to take SL forward. Good luck. You have support from an Indian fan here.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 13:50 GMT)

No Chandimal . seriously he was considered the future wasnt he .

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 13:05 GMT)

Its good to give the captaincy to Mathews,while senior players are around him.Because it will give him confidence to lead the team well.And he will be a good captain for SL in all three formats of the game;as he can handle the pressure pretty well. Wish you all the best to perform well in Australia.

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 12:22 GMT)

good to see mathews as a (future)captain mahela sanga and dilshan will definitely help him to grow.

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