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I once wrote that Angelo Mathews did not really exist. He just seemed a bit too awesome. And not like other Sri Lankan cricketers. Angelo wasn’t a graceful middle-order mestro, or a tubby fighter. Angelo wasn’t a top-order slogger, or even a tricky spinner. That’s what Sri Lankan cricket was; we’d got use to their best players fitting these stereotypes. And suddenly here was this broad-shouldered (© Tony Greig), seam-bowling allrounder who could win a game batting, bowling or fielding.
It was too weird for me to process, so I just pretended he didn’t exist.
I felt like this when he fell over wickets against India, bowled Sri Lanka into a World T20 final, took a catch that went viral on Youtube and smashed Australia around the G. Now, finally after all these years, I am willing to admit that Angelo Mathews does exist, and he exists well. Really well. Weller than most. Peter Weller, well.
Forget for a minute he looks like he’s been drawn by a Sri Lankan artist trying to make a cool superhero, and that his skin looks so smooth that I sometimes think it’s not actually skin. And just think about the way he fights.
Allrounders usually come in two ways: gifted and lazy, or plucky and up for a fight. Mathews is gifted and up for a fight. He loves a fight. The worse Sri Lanka play, the better he seems to be. Every time I come into some pointless ODI with Sri Lanka already having collapsed to no real chance of a win, there is Mathews, annoyingly stuck at the non-striker’s end, looking frustrated and angry.
Always angry. So very angry.
Mathews really doesn’t like to lose. And I don’t mean that in the clichéd sports way, I mean it in the you can see it in his face way.
When he brought up his half-century tonight at the WACA, he didn’t raise his bat for the crowd’s polite adulation. He just looked angry. Angry that yet again his team was not playing as well as a team that 8 months ago was in a World Cup final.
Players who don’t like to lose are the best to watch up close. Their faces are magnificent. There is a reason fans talk of Ponting face. Players like Mathews and Ponting just despise losing, and don’t really try and hide it.
The last time he had to carry an unworthy side over the line against Australia, his anger turned to joy, when armed with just a plucky tail, he won the game and was uber-heroic. This time he tried to use that anger again and very nearly did, but even without the win this just adds to his character.
The hero can’t win every time, after all.
I now look forward to my future watching of an Angelo Mathews who does exist. Or maybe I was always right, and he doesn’t exist, because it seems he wasn’t given Man of the Match. Which seems odd.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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