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February 10, 2012

Commonwealth Bank Series

Angelo Mathews does exist, then

Jarrod Kimber
Angelo Mathews drives through the off side, India v Sri Lanka, CB Series, 2nd ODI, Perth, February 8, 2012
Angelo Mathews is an allrounder who is talented and likes to fight  © Getty Images
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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.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by Jara Kimber on (April 17, 2012, 1:04 GMT)

Love it

Posted by t0a5t on (March 18, 2012, 2:27 GMT)

Angelo can do anything if he puts himself to it. That injury has put Angelo down and Sri Lanka is in a bad position.

Posted by anon on (March 12, 2012, 11:05 GMT)

ok...... anjelo perhaps could be better a bit higher up as a batter, now the taranga or tirimanna can bat at no 6.he could then build up a better batting average.

Posted by Ifthikar on (February 25, 2012, 0:21 GMT)

Great article and seeing the number of comments, amazed me - just shows what fans think about Angelo Mathews. At one time, I was wondering why Sri Lanka persisted with an allrounder who would only bat and not fire a single ball in anger at the batsmen. I think the time has come to pass on the captaincy reins to Angelo before it is too late and groom him to lead Sri Lanka before it is too late. Having ex captains in the side would be a good thing but Angelo needs to time to blossom as a captain now that he has proved his worth in the side. Keep up the good work Angelo.

Posted by Jada on (February 15, 2012, 15:51 GMT)

Thank you for contributing to the sadly lacking homoeroticism in cricket. And I mean that sincerely lol

Posted by Muragedera on (February 14, 2012, 2:10 GMT)

You know what 'KIMBER' means in Sinhalese right?

Posted by Mano on (February 13, 2012, 12:10 GMT)

super wrting. Really love the way you write. Gifted ability. you explain everything as its happening now. no one get boared with this kind of wrting. keep it up. i admire your writing more than what is said there..a true write exists and he is here!!

Posted by klds on (February 13, 2012, 10:53 GMT)

Hats off to Angelo !!!

Posted by DF on (February 13, 2012, 10:44 GMT)

Those you have seen Arjuna Ranathunga play when he was 19-22 will agree this is our 2nd AR in the making

Posted by Prasad Hapuarachchi on (February 13, 2012, 9:47 GMT)

Your comments about Matthews was very interesting. You will make a first class commentator like Brian Johnson of BBC. He was full of humor and so is you.

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