Sri Lanka tour of England 2014

Adapting to conditions key- Mathews

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

May 4, 2014

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Angelo Mathews flicks one away, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sharjah, 1st day, January 16, 2014
Angelo Mathews will be playing his first Test series in England, having previously toured the country thrice © AFP
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Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews believes that adapting to English conditions as quickly as possible will be his team's biggest challenge in their upcoming tour of England and Ireland. Sri Lanka will kick-start their campaign with two ODIs in Dublin against Ireland, before moving to England for a one-off Twenty20 international, five ODIs, and two Tests.

"As a player the main thing is to adapt to the conditions," Mathews said. "We have been playing a lot of cricket in the subcontinent and playing in England will be a great challenge for all us especially adapting to the conditions early. In the early summer, conditions can be wet and the ball can seam and swing a little bit. If we can adjust to the conditions as soon as possible and play our brand of cricket we can beat any team.

"Playing against Ireland will be good for us. They are a very good team and we can't be complacent against them. They know their conditions well and adapting to their conditions will be our biggest challenge. Whatever team that plays there knows that Ireland is very good at home. We look forward to a really good challenge from them and I am sure the boys are ready for it."

Mathews also said that he expected England to come hard at his team following a disappointing Ashes campaign in Australia, where they were trounced 5-0. Even history is against Sri Lanka, who haven't won a Test in England since 2006, when they emerged victorious from the Nottingham Test by 134 runs to tie the three-match series 1-1. The team last toured England for a Test series in 2011, where a batting collapse in the second innings of the first Test in Cardiff handed the hosts a 1-0 victory.

"England as a team are very hard to beat at home," he said. "They know their conditions and they play their best cricket at home. It's going to be a very big challenge for all of us and we are looking forward to it."

For Mathews who has been on three previous tours to England but only played in ODIs, this will be his first Test tour to the country. Sri Lanka will be playing Tests at Lord's and in Leeds. Sri Lanka have not won a bilateral ODI series outside the subcontinent since November 2010 when they beat Australia 2-1.On their last tour to England, in 2011, they lost the five-match ODI series 2-3.

"Playing at Lord's will be a special moment for me as well as the team. If we can win the series it will be a great effort by the whole team," he said. "But we are not looking too far ahead, but taking it one game at a time. We are playing against Ireland and then hoping to take that momentum to the England series and try and win against them in the ODIs and in the Tests."

Mathews has been captain of Sri Lanka for seven Tests and the added responsibility only brought out the best in his batting. He averages 80 in those Tests, which include three fifties and a career-best 157 not out. In ODIs too he has an impressive record as captain, scoring 794 runs at 44.11 from 32 matches with a strike-rate of 83. Mathews, however, credited only his team-mates for his good form.

"I am slowly getting comfortable because the team is responding really well. They are giving me their 100 percent and we are like a family. We help each other and we enjoy each other's success. That's the main thing.

"It's a team effort and we done pretty well in the recent past. I talk to all the senior guys and get their advice but I do it in my own style with the help of so many people.

Winning the Asia Cup was a key moment for Mathews as captain, particularly because of the burden of expectations thrust on Sri Lanka's shoulders. Prior to their World T20 triumph in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka had finished runners-up in four of the last six world events.

"It was one of the highlights of my career. That's a major trophy that I won with the help of the team," Mathews said. "We got pretty close in the past but we didn't win a major title before the Asia Cup. I am very happy the way we went about it. Winning the World T20 was also great achievement by the entire team."

To help Mathews achieve his goals, he has a new vice-captain, a new coach as well as a special consultant. Lahiru Thirimanne has taken over the role as Mathews' deputy from Dinesh Chandimal, and Marvan Atapattu has filled the void created by coach Paul Farbrace, who returned to England. Chris Adams, the former Surrey coach has been appointed to act as a consultant for the tour.

"Thiri is a great player and he has shown that in the past. He is one of those players who hasn't got the opportunity to bat at a permanent position for a long time and he has batted in various positions. If you take his record he has scored almost in every position. That shows the character of the player. He is a very cool and calm headed guy. I really look forward to him being my deputy and taking the team to attain greater heights.

"Marvan has played enough cricket and captained the country on so many occasions. He has sufficient experience as a coach. He was our batting coach and now he is turning up as head coach. He's shared his experience throughout and he's been great. I am pretty sure he will do a good job. It's about players responding to the challenge.

"We also hope to get the maximum out of Chris Adams. The thinking behind getting him was that he knows the English conditions and about the English team as well. We've done a little bit of analysing of the English team. We sort of know their players, but it's more about the conditions and how we use it properly. That was the main thinking behind appointing him."

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Posted by Compton-Effect on (May 6, 2014, 23:39 GMT)

Two super guys in SL batting line up, Kusal Perera added another 4ball DUCK to his amazing record on fast tracks, accumulating 17 Runs from 6 ODI Innings. Kithuruwan Vithanage is the only other guy who survived under 5 balls on that lively Irish Spring deck!

Posted by Santhush-Perera on (May 6, 2014, 20:46 GMT)

SL badly needs an experienced OPENER to stem the inning in upcoming ODI series & for the future, including WC. Wasting anymore time with a substandard guy, who was parachuted to the ODI side in 2013, at the expense of 8th highest all time Run-maker for SL, is a CRIME! Persisting with an unskilled, substandard opener like KUSAL would certainly cost heavily for SL, in the Eng series as well as 2015 WC! He has managed just 17 RUNS in SIX consecutive innings at an astonishing AVERAGE of 2.9 on lively Fast-decks! Whenever he appear in these conditions, the lacking skills are clearly visible! How on earth, a player like him GET REPEATEDLY SELECTED for 50 over games? IT is high time for Sanath to bring back SL's most experienced young 28yr opener Upul Tharanga, who has scored 13 CENTURIES + 28x50s all over the world in ODIs. This includes 2 CENTURIES vs Eng in England. This is Tharanga's Record in Eng: Batting Average 69.40 -S/R 84.42 - 5 Inning -347 Runs - 100sx2 + 50sx1 (HS 120).

Posted by RohanMarkJay on (May 6, 2014, 16:09 GMT)

Good luck Sri Lanka. I firmly this is Sri Lanka's best chance to win a test series (More than one test match) in England. Make history by winning their first test series in England. It would be a fitting reward to complement Sri Lanka's historic T20 trophy and limited overs cricket prowess. Sri Lanka has a great chance this time as England team is still recovering from the ashes debacle against Australia in Oz. Although Matthews is correct when he says that England plays their best cricket in England.Even the bad England sides of the 1990s barring against Australia, Pakistan and losing a one off test against Sri Lanka in 1998 did quite well at home against other opposition. So Sri Lanka will need to play really good cricket.They should win this time if Sri Lanka's very good batsman make big scores even the early swing and seam conditions shouldn't be a problem to batsman of Sri Lanka's class Here's hoping Sri Lanka win the series to complement their T20 trophy.All the best Sri Lanka :)

Posted by   on (May 5, 2014, 16:24 GMT)

@asanka your team isn't balance! we can't play 3 front line bowlers and 2 part timers (mathews rarely bowl 10 overs in ODI's) and win a match! And you drop our best pace bowler and allrounder kulasekaara Sri lanka win matches by good bowling and good batting! Drop kithruwan and put kulasekara

Posted by   on (May 5, 2014, 15:29 GMT)

My Team : Kusal , Thirimanna, Chandimal, Vithanage, Matthews, Priyangan, N.Dickwalla, C de silva, Eranga, Sennayaka, Prasad.This is Super team this tourament. Very balance team. 2 seamers, 1 all rounder, 2 spinners .

Posted by Sinhaya on (May 5, 2014, 13:15 GMT)

@Chris_P, yes I know how much you love test cricket as seen by your posts. We lack bowling strength to win test series especially overseas. But for a team which did not play test cricket for 9 months last year, many forecasted 2-0 for Pakistan in UAE but it was 1-1 in the end. Eranga has recently improved so lets see. English bowling will be testing so lets look forward to an exciting test series.

@landl47, sorry I agree I was too optimistic on Kaushal Silva. But his twin fifties in the Dubai test must be noted. Kithuruwan Vithanage yes he only has played tests against Bangladesh. Angelo Mathews is improving fast as his test batting average shows. Sanga holds the key for tests. We must play Kusal Perera for tests indeed instead of Dimuth Karunaratne. Chandimal has some good scores in England and outside Asia but his recent form is a worry.

As for England, Chris Woakes should play tests as a replacement for Kevin Pietersen.

Posted by Chris_P on (May 5, 2014, 11:44 GMT)

@Sinhaya, Good points plus a much better set of expectations is very much the point of my post. Expect good showings, yes, but to expect test victories or series victories given recent away form leaves you very much up for disappointment. I still believe your bowling is very much the key factor on your performances over there & that concerns me as an observer. Your batting is close to top shelf, but they will be against a very talented bowling unit on familiar surfaces & with solid home form. I do enjoy test cricket so looking forward to the series.

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (May 5, 2014, 10:04 GMT)

My Team: Upul, Kushal, Lahiru, Dinesh, Angelo, Kithuruwan, Sachitra, Chathuranga, Nuwan, , Dhammika, and Ajantha. This got 3 seamers, 2 officies 1 lefty, 1 leggi, and 9 batters. I am really looking forward to this team.

Posted by Rawanaa on (May 5, 2014, 5:05 GMT)

Guys its new era with mathews & recently he shows us what he is capable of... wining asia cup & t20 world cup is past so hopefully we have to looking forward to prepare our resources to win world cup in 2015. This england tour is the foundation & my money is with mathews & co & we all know they are not going to disappointing us.. I'm pretty sure that lakmal, eranga, pradeep with herath can take 20 wickets & kaushal,sanga, mahela,thiri, mathews can do the rest to win test series.... with the recent form hell yeah we can beat them on their own backyard... good luck Srilanka... Go get them

Posted by landl47 on (May 5, 2014, 3:29 GMT)

@Sinhaya: While I respect your opinion, I think to claim that Sri Lanka don't depend on Sanga and Mahela any more based on a few tests in the subcontinent/UAE against Bangladesh is stretching optimism to its utmost. Silva is nearly 28 and has only made runs in the subcontinent; he played one test in South Africa in 2011 and made 0 and 17. I haven't seen Vithanage, but he has only played 4 tests, all against Bangladesh in the subcontinent/UAE (has he played any cricket at all anywhere else?).

There is little relationship between tests against Bangladesh seam bowling in subcontinental conditions and tests against England seam bowling in early summer in England.

If they do well, then good for them. Don't count on it. If Sanga and Mahela don't do well, SL in my opinion is likely to lose the tests.

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