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Angelo Mathews hasn’t convinced me he’s a Test No. 6 batsman.
He probably doesn’t have to as Mahela Jayawardene and Graham Ford haven’t yet come up to me for advice on the batting line-up. But while he has the skill to bat at five or six in Test cricket, he doesn’t structure his innings well. Lots of young allrounders have his problem. They can bat, but because of being a bowler as well it’s as if they just haven’t learned how to pace and build a proper Test match innings.
Shane Watson still has that problem today, he can bat, but making a big Test match hundred is really hard for him. That said he has turned himself into a batsman by the sheer number of smaller contributions he makes.
One day Mathews will probably learn. Like Watson, Mathews may have to adapt because his body cannot stand the rigours of bowling.
Right now the only time Mathews looks really in charge of the situation is when he’s involved with a chase, or batting with the tail. It’s proper mission batting. When the situation dictates how he has to bat, Angelo doesn’t need to worry about how to structure or pace himself, he just does what the situation needs.
Against Australia in a couple of ODIs that has just been encouragement of the tail and brutal hitting.
Against England today it was just clever boundary hitting and manipulation of the strike.
If you’ve ever seen Angelo Mathews bat in a dire situation, you are going to be a fan of him. Mathews turns from a batsmen with good shots who is a little unsure of himself into a calm one-man wrecking crew with the skill of a proper batsman, the power of big hitter and the carefree attitude of an allrounder.
It’s brutal fun in an often bad situation for Sri Lanka.
Today he only lasted untill 46. But he gave Sri Lanka something, if not much, to bowl at. Without him not even the most pessimistic England fan would have been nervous.
Mathews went hard through mid-on with scary power, swept and reverse swept cleverly and found the right singles to keep Suranga Lakmal away from as much danger as he could. In these situations he hits the ball with an authority and calmness he doesn’t have in a normal innings.
There is plenty of time for him to learn how to construct an innings, and I hope he does. Even if he doesn’t, with the skills and temperament he has, he’s going to be a consistent saviour for Sri Lanka in the future.
Smashing the ball through long-on and looking calm doing so.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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