Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st T20, Sydney

Mathews' campaign begins afresh

Uncertainty surrounds Angelo Mathews' prospects of succeeding Mahela Jayawardene as Sri Lanka captain in all three formats

Andrew Fernando

January 25, 2013

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

Angelo Mathews addresses the media, Hobart, December 12, 2012
Angelo Mathews needs to make a good impression as Sri Lanka's T20 captain if he is lead in the other formats © Getty Images

Two weeks ago, Angelo Mathews may have thought that Saturday's Twenty20 international at the Sydney Cricket Ground would effectively be his first match as Sri Lanka's captain in all formats. He might have dreamed of building his team in the coming years and made mental notes about how each young talent should be fostered. Perhaps he even looked forward to the Bangladesh tour in March as an opportunity to find his feet at the helm and begin shaping a side consistent with his ideals, attitude and identity. He will likely have to wait. The top brass at home have all but confirmed Mathews will not be entrusted with the Test captaincy.

So embroiled is Sri Lanka's politics in its cricket that before the selection panel who will choose the new captain has even been appointed, the sports minister has already declared that Sri Lanka will have a separate captain for Tests. As the minister appoints the selectors and authorises each team they name, there is little cause to doubt him on that. There is a chance too, that Sanath Jayasuriya, who is also part of Sri Lanka's government, will be a selector, and perhaps their chairman.

Through all this the minister has also voiced his discontent with players who "hug all three formats of the game" and called for three distinct teams for each format. Mahela Jayawardene's souring relationship with SLC was played out in the papers in last month's leaked letter saga, and his Test place now seems less secure than his form and record warrants. He had quit the captaincy with the intention of mentoring his long-term replacement but neither the man he expected to take the reins nor Jayawardene himself may be positioned in the way he had imagined in the months to come.

It is amid all this uncertainty that Mathews must now pursue his first victory as captain. The two Twenty20s are almost a post-script at the end of a long tour but there is still plenty on the line for Sri Lanka, not just in terms of results but also in how Mathews comes off as a leader.

A 2-0 victory would give Sri Lanka some consolation after a difficult tour. They were woeful in the Tests and failed to close out the one-day series and will be desperate to leave Australia with at least one trophy of their own. The bowlers in particular have played some excellent cricket in the past two weeks, and they will feel a shared ODI series was not a just reward for their efforts. Sri Lanka will be playing to keep the No. 1 ranking they earned at the World Twenty20 as well, and need at least a drawn series to hold on to it.

For Mathews, the Twenty20s are about showcasing his capacity for leadership. His nerveless navigation of difficult ODI chases has made his stoicism plain but there is still immaturity about his game and, increasingly, the air of unfulfilled promise. It is perhaps why, two years after he was initially considered for the captaincy, there is still widespread hesitance about the prospect of him taking the reins. There is no doubt that he has the unequivocal support of the side's seniors and the respect of the younger group as well, but his own game has not progressed rapidly enough to announce his readiness for the added burden. Each time he walks to the crease in Tests, he also drags an ever-worsening conversion rate behind him.

Tactically, he is also something of a mystery. Rarely in his 20 months as vice-captain has he been seen weighing in on on-field decisions, and although he led his Sri Lanka Premier League squad to the final of that competition, he was blessed with one of the best attacks in the tournament who struck form early in their campaign. He does, however, deserve credit for coaxing good cricket out of them.

A 2-0 victory in the Twenty20s is unlikely to be enough to change the minds of the men who call the shots in Sri Lanka's cricket, but for Mathews it would be a decent start as he builds a case for the Test captaincy. He won Sri Lankan hearts as a youngster with a single innings at the MCG in 2010, but if he is to earn respect as a leader, it must come through consistency over time, with positive results for the team, as well as with the bat.

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

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Posted by sarainSL on (January 27, 2013, 3:53 GMT)

#Gloryof96 who is this Samaranayaka? unheard of during that era. 6'4" inch tall Ravi was way ahead than many, however bowlers such as Sanath Sirimanne,Mahinda Halangoda,Kapila Wijegunawardene could have been picked straight from school. Pinch hitting has been originated in NZ with Mark Greatbatch and it was a Team led by Whatmore that initiated to open bating with two pinch hitters during 95/96 Benson &Hedges Series in Aus. It was the only series that the 2 were successful to a certain extent. Kalu was a complete flop in the WC, Sanath failed miserably in all important matches: 1st Match, Semi & Final. You can't win a series without consistency when your success rate is 1:7 (i.e. ability get a score over 50 only once out of 7 innings played).

Posted by Gloryof96 on (January 26, 2013, 14:21 GMT)

@A_HITMAN, let me tell you about Madugalle. He is the KCIRP< who told Anusha Sam (aka Yakka) "you will never play while I am Captain" .... why ..... that's his Kandy Trinity mentality. Yakka was one of the most promising pace bowlers we had at that time but Madugalle favored his fellow Trinitian Ravi Ratnayake!

Sanath Jayasuriya is of the same mentality although he is not from Trinity, SLC SHOULD NOT and MUST NOT get guys who have chips on their shoulders.

Posted by Slazenger84 on (January 26, 2013, 13:33 GMT)

"Sanath Jayasuriya, who is also part of Sri Lanka's government, will be a selector, and perhaps their chairman." That sentence is missing some important part in it Andrew. It would have been nice if it was "Sanath Jayasuriya, who is also part of Sri Lanka's government, ONE OF THE BEST CRICKETERS PRODUCED BY SRI LANKA IF NOT THE BEST, will be a selector, and perhaps their chairman." You should not forget the fact that Sri Lanka owes more than half of its' achievements in international cricket to that man, Mr Andrew. His appointment will make lot of good to the outstation cricketers who are getting ignored by the Colombo centered selectors. Jayasuriya was the first sri lankan cricket captain to come from an out station school. Every coin has two sides! Also , no one has more international cricket experience than Jaysuriya for this important job. Let's hope for the best.

Posted by acnipuna on (January 26, 2013, 13:25 GMT)

The main problem for in SL side is that they dont have a permanent customer in 27-32 to be the capatain for next four years

Posted by A_HTIMAN on (January 26, 2013, 12:55 GMT)

@Prem2248 Mate, the openers were back in the pavilion within the 1st 10 overs in almost every match of that 6 innings... Well in that 10 overs if they score something around 80 the match is almost over. Reckless hitters are needed to the shorter format. That's why Sri Lanka became so popular in 96. There was a new brand of cricket being played. And Ranatunga deserves credit for starting it. if that was unsuccessful why would Waugh copy it with Gilchrist. Even today Gayle can take a one day match within 10 overs. Samaraweera is a great player but having him also in the team with Mahela, Sanga Hashan and co is way too many. I never say Madugalle was a bad captain. But Sri Lanka had a better option in Ranatunga. (credit needed to be given for Gamini Dissanayake for taking that brave decession when Ranatinga was a son of an opposition MP) Bdw. Lanka De silva averages 53 in ODI

Posted by Lakpj on (January 26, 2013, 12:23 GMT)

@ PkZindabaaddon't count the chicks before the eggs hatch, that is exactly what your great Wagar Younis once said when Aravinda and Arjuna were at their last stages in the careers. There are enough young players in SL who have better potential than what Sanga and Mahela had when they at the same age. You just wait and see.

Posted by   on (January 26, 2013, 8:40 GMT)

not as the captain.... he has to earn his spot as a player first....

Posted by Dambulla on (January 26, 2013, 6:23 GMT)

Three Captains for all 3 format will be better option for the betterment of SL cricket. However, initially two captains would be better option. Angelo for Test and ODI and my personal view, Chandimal good choice for T20 format as he led several successful SL-A tours. Especially his last tour as SL-A team leader, SL-A team beat Australia-A. Fast bowlers like Lasith or Kulasekara should not be considered as SL team leaders as usually fast bowlers usually face injuries, leaving filed or they usually stay bit far places at ground means bit difficult to communicate with blowers at regular intervals. Therefore, those factors should be considered by new selection panel.

Posted by PkZindabaad on (January 26, 2013, 5:33 GMT)

With little options remaining Mathews is the best candidate. It seems so pathetic that there no other guys to step forward to do the role. Once Dil, Sanga, Mahela goes Srilanka will fumble in a big time. just feel sorry for Srilankan fans who are very exuberant in watching cricket, don't have much to celebrate when the stalwarts retire or thrown out of the team. The future looks bleak with the likes of Chandumal, kushal who don't have what in it for an international player. Sorry guys.

Posted by dunger.bob on (January 26, 2013, 3:55 GMT)

As far as I can see Angelo is an allrounder who is slightly better at bowling than batting. In the entire history of the game there have only really been 2 allrounders that can been classed as "great" batsmen. Sobers and Kallis. That's it. The reason I say this is that I think it may be impossible for Angelo to become the 50 converting backbone that you want him to be. .. don't get me wrong, I think he's an excellent player, but he's an allrounder, not a batting maestro. .. he's your version of Watson in my opinion and Watto has a poor conversion rate as well. Worse than Angelo's I would say. .. I reckon he will be a very, very handy cricketer who is capable of playing some great knocks but he won't have the consistency of a Sanga or Mahela. .... In my opinion.

Posted by Prem2248 on (January 26, 2013, 2:59 GMT)

juncture I don't see a better person than Mathews, after Mahela to lead the Country in all forms of the Game. Mathews should bat as a front-liner and avoid all his reckless approach to batting. Some communal minded people that are foreign to the Game could inject rubbish ideas in to the minds of responsible persons therefore those officials, should be careful and determined to do what is right for the Country. Most probably these unfruitful theories may come mainly from priests who don't practice their religion as laid down in the Scriptures.

Posted by Prem2248 on (January 26, 2013, 2:59 GMT)

[the openers were back in the pavilion within the 1st 10 overs in almost every match of that 6 innings; stats courtesy], he stands way below in my list of captains, because he is the person that started bring in players without having proper domestic and school performances in to the TEAM, that was why almost all his brothers and other henchmen represented the Country while Varuna Waragoda, Sajith Fernando, Lanka de Silva, Manoj Mendis, Duleepa Samaraweera, Sanjeewa Warusamanne, Indika de Saram, Jeewantha Kulathunga, Ian Daniel,… like brilliant players couldn't or hardly represent the Country. As a result reckless hitters were able to represent the Country 400-600 Internationals Innings, while top class players like Thilan S'weera who has had a consistent career since the age of 15 was able represent the Country only 170 odd International Innings. At this present 2 B CNTD

Posted by Prem2248 on (January 26, 2013, 2:58 GMT)

by the local media. Most people believe he as the best captain produced by SL, just because, the WC was won during his time as captain. It was a team effort; the credit shouldn't be given to one single person, in actual fact 50% of that should go to the SLan born coach Dave Whatmore and his team of coaches for enhancing mental & physical strength in our quality players like ARAVINDA, MAHANAMA & HASHAN who were always in a position to play controlled, chanceless innings[only a batter that treat the ball on merits offer minimum chances could demoralize any bowling attack & maintain consistency, like the way, done by modern day batters like Young Dravid, T'dulkar,S'weera, Alistaire, Trott & Amala]. If not for these 3 main batters & team of disciplined bowlers there won't be a WC win for SL. If somebody says that we won the WC due to reckless risky batting of openers & the captain, it's not true. 2 B CNTD

Posted by Prem2248 on (January 26, 2013, 2:57 GMT)

The captain of any International team, Cricket in particular is like an ambassador for that particular country he will have to face lot of media discussion and many other functions as well other than Cricket during his tenure. Therefore he has to be a person, who has vast experience from youth, should be able to express himself well, intelligent, be in a position to understand the questions posed at him and be knowledgeable enough to give the right answer. If we had consider the number of captains we had since getting Test status, Ranjan Madugalle name should come first on that list, this was endorsed by the British media during his visit to Eng'd in 1988 as Captain. The Captaincy was taken away from him by the authorities & politicians who had a great liking for over hyped Player ( who thought reckless batters, like him, are the ideal as front-liners and always preferred reckless risky stroke makers to quality batters of Roy Dias' Madugalle's , Mahanama's Attapattu's class)2 B CNTD

Posted by miles100 on (January 26, 2013, 1:59 GMT)

KingOwl ,,, You misunderstood me.From my experience Angelo is not arrogant at all. He is a humble & quiet kid. I said there are other groups I've come across who misunderstood him in a negative way.did you mean that we need an arrogant captain? Remember We only need a brave,humble,strategic captain who is also persistent only to those unfair authorities who are trying to put the country down.That's what Arjuna did to those unfair authorities. We don't need a captain who is arrogant for no reason to every single thing and cannot deliver the goods as the captain. Being arrogant & confident are 2 different things. My personal belief is that this kid Angelo has the right attitude to take SL cricket forward.

Posted by miles100 on (January 26, 2013, 0:57 GMT)

@Yoker111, They certainly need a hard hitting opener like Jayasuriya & Kalu , Thisara Perera does not have enough technique to face the new ball. Facing the new ball requires some technical batting ability apart from stroke play.Sanath's technique wasn't perfect but had a variety of strokes than Thisara. However Kushal Perera will be a great opener from my opinion and later after he becomes a senior in 4/5 years and he can be pushed to a more responsible position like no:5 or 6.

Posted by Zaph on (January 25, 2013, 23:05 GMT)

Tonight's T20I is not at the SCG, it is at Stadium Australia, in Sydney Olympic Park.

Posted by KingOwl on (January 25, 2013, 19:30 GMT)

miles100: Angelo is arrogant? Where did you get that from?! I personally have no problem if Angelo is arrogant. In fact, I would think of that as a positive. SL needs a leader who has a lot of confidence. If it borders on arrogance, then so be it.

Posted by Yoker111 on (January 25, 2013, 18:42 GMT)

In my opinion i believe Matthews will be a good captain, Once Sanga and Mahela retires along with Dilshan it will urge him to step up and play a captains role overall. That been said i also think Matthews should look at the route cause of SL batting. the main slot is weak and that is the opening slot. I think Matthews should promote his long term friend to open the batting "Thisara Perera". He is the only batsmen that might have some similarity to Jayasuriya in strength wise. His strength can be maximize up the order rather than the few balls he is expected to play or save a game. It is the captain that needs to have faith in promoting a player like that. I beleive Jayasuriya will also agree with me as a selector if so. I have a strong feeling that Perera is the man to change the game and Matthews is defineatly the captain to make the change. If this change ever happens which will turn out possitve, mark my words SL will be on the road for glory.

Posted by stormy16 on (January 25, 2013, 16:06 GMT)

Dont think SL actually have too many options in terms of an alternative captain to Mathews. I agree with the writes comments that Mathews is yet to fully secure his test spot which further complicates the situation. The reality is SL is in a tight corner and requires a tough nut to lead the team and there is simply no one better than Mathews. Any other choice I feel will be yet another "interim" half baked solution like Dilshan and in another year we will have this debate all over again. I dont understant what this Minister is doing in the mix - that's why there are people called the selectors. If the Minister wants to have the final say then do away with the selectors and let the Minister do the selections. This most probably result in somelone like Tharanga Paranawitharan being handed the captaincy which will be yet another "interim" solution.

Posted by KanAloshFozter on (January 25, 2013, 16:01 GMT)

As Andrew pointed out, Angelo has wasted so many innings after getting a start.Unless he rectify it he can't lead the side with example.He was widely tipped to be the skipper ever since he was first included in the team.That's shows he got leadership skills.But he must blend his playing skills with it.If he can't become test skipper then Sanga should lead

Posted by miles100 on (January 25, 2013, 15:41 GMT)

I have faith in Angelo as the captain for all 3 formats. If SL wants to build the future,Angelo is their only hope.Some say he is not ready.Many believe he is unfriendly & arrogant.The reality could be he is a humble but shy personality who is comfortable only with the people around him. At the end of the day if he can deliver the goods that's all matters.He is a fighter under lights who missed a lot of winning opportunities when chasing mainly for the following reasons.*Takes too long(too many deliveries) to settle down from the 15th to the 40th over because of not upsetting the line & length of bowlers during this time.*Lack of partners who are stable as him during a chase.Especially there is no experienced No:5 batsman for SL who has endurance during this period since all seniors are occupying the opening & top order batting positions where juniors are suppose to be playing.This is one of the reason why SL batting got messed up for many years. Hope Angelo can fix this situation.

Posted by lonewarriorram on (January 25, 2013, 14:38 GMT)

Why do politicians interfere in cricket to play spoil sport. Can some remind the sports minister that he is there to improve the infrastructure and promotion of sports in the country rather than interfering the board's seelection process please.

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 25, 2013, 14:32 GMT)

Its not a bad idea in mordern day cricket to have split captains, the questions is if its not Angelo then WHO? There is absolutely a huge gap between Mahela, Sanga and Dilshan (former skippers) and the next in line. In terms of experience Angelo might score over others, but othewise who is the next leader in the first 15? Its huge boots to fill for Angelo but who knows its the kick in the back he needs. With not Tests, at least he does not have to worry about it immediately and focus on the shorter verions, that will buy some time before he can stamp his authority.

Posted by   on (January 25, 2013, 14:28 GMT)

God I'm sick of the politics in Sri Lankan cricket!!!! Why don;t they just hand the captaincy back to Dilshan?

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