England v Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI, Old Trafford May 28, 2014

Mathews at loss to explain collapse


In his relatively young career as an international cricketer, Angelo Mathews has witnessed several appalling batting collapses. Perhaps the most traumatic was Sri Lanka's second-innings capitulation in the Cardiff Test in 2011, when on a flat pitch, needing to survive less than two sessions for a draw, the team succumbed to 82 all out. Eight months later, Sri Lanka suffered their worst ODI ignominy, crashing to 43 after South Africa had made 301 at Paarl.

Yet, Wednesday's defeat, Mathews said, was "one of the worst games I've ever played". Almost that exact phrase was delivered by Eoin Morgan after the previous match, in a series that is proving nearly as unpredictable as a double-pendulum. Sri Lanka had appeared confident and well-acclimatised in the approach to this match, but then served up a performance that undermined all their gains in England.

Mathews said complacency was not at the root of the collapse, but was otherwise at something of a loss to explain the debacle. On Twitter, fans who were similarly dumbfounded joked the team's trip to Manchester United's Old Trafford days before had facilitated the osmosis of mediocrity. But even ardent United fan Mahela Jayawardene will find it hard to blame his strange lbw dismissal on David Moyes.

"We're in the same situation as England after Durham," Mathews said. "Poor shot selection was the main reason why we got so few runs. It was never a 67 wicket. There were no demons in the wicket. It swung a little bit in the first seven to ten overs, but after that it wasn't doing much."

Several Sri Lanka batsmen had been undone by the short ball in the first match of the series and, although more were out to fuller deliveries in Manchester, England's bowlers had clearly drawn up plans to bounce out some individuals. Dinesh Chandimal was conspicuously targeted and though he survived the barrage early in his innings, he was out driving a wide delivery, having been kept pinned to the crease for some time.

"We expected the short ball," Mathews said. "We didn't really deal with it properly. It's hard to explain why we were all out for 67. We knew England were going to come back hard at us, and we just couldn't cope up with it."

Chris Jordan took home his second Man-of-the-Match award of the series, for his career-best 5 for 29, but it had been James Anderson who made the initial incisions, in a pinpoint seven-over new-ball spell that claimed both openers and conceded only 10 runs. There was no prodigious swing for any of the bowlers but Sri Lanka's batsmen lacked the concentration to move past difficult periods, and the intent to reverse pressure.

"There was no intention of hanging in there and toughing it out," Mathews said. "In overcast conditions James bowls really well on any wicket. He bowled some really good deliveries together with Harry Gurney and Jordan. You can't really moan about the weather or the wicket. It's just us to blame. If we want to stay alive in the series, we've got to win against them in the next game."

Sri Lanka have used Lahiru Thirimanne to open alongside Tillakaratne Dilshan in this series, despite Kusal Perera's presence in the squad, and Mathews suggested that strategy was down to the expectation Thirimanne had a tighter technique for the moving ball. Changes in the top order may be forthcoming, however, after two major batting failures in three matches.

"I thought even though he didn't get enough runs in the Durham game, Lahiru played the part of getting through those vital six overs of Anderson. We've got to get through that spell to try and build up to have batters at the end. I thought he played his part but today, unfortunately, he played a poor shot. The first ten overs at Lord's and Birmingham are going to be vital. With this weather around, we're really going to need solid openers. Thiri is one of them. Unfortunately he hasn't got enough runs yet."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 1, 2014, 15:58 GMT

    Sri lankan fans & selectors never see the reality.So whole sl team in trouble.poor dilshan & sanga doing all the work in sl batting.

  • Dummy on May 31, 2014, 2:05 GMT

    This is not end of the world. Forget the 3rd ODI. SL got the talent and experience. Team selection very important. SL famous for their attacking batting in the early overs. Thirimanne slow down Dilly and others. The way Thirimanne batting gives ballets confidence. Chandimal need to bat either 3, 4 or 5. Weather forecast better on Saturday. One spinner enough and big hitter Thisara should play every game. '

  • Kepili on May 30, 2014, 17:28 GMT

    Strange world..! A guy who has the HIGHEST overall Batting Average (34.5) for a SL player (Tharanga) in Eng, Aus, WI, SA & NZ all Seaming, Bouncy Fast- Decks & conditions, is playing SL-A cricket…. while all the rookies, nowhere near him play in the National Side.. way to go SL :))

  • Dummy4 on May 30, 2014, 9:30 GMT

    Poor Selection ! Knowing that the weather condition was favoring the fast bowlers sri lanka had to select Herath as replacement for lakmal instead of Eranga. At least we could have lost the match with 1 or 2 wickets in our pockets. This is complete thrashing.

  • Dummy4 on May 30, 2014, 2:52 GMT

    Kithruwan should open and Lahiru to play at 3 down. Chandimal should correct his tech .Thissara perara should come back.

  • Andrew on May 30, 2014, 1:26 GMT

    Interesting bit of stats: The opening pair of Mahela Jayawardene & Upul Tharanga is not a new combination for SL. This pair has been prolific in the six innings they have batted together as opening partners - three stands of 200-plus and one 50-plus they achieved was something special!. this kind of batting we need for the World Cup!

    Upul Tharanga's feat of reaching 5000 in 157 innings is the 2nd FASTEST by a SL player in ODIs (Marvan Athapattu took 152 innings to achieve that).

    He is the ninth SL player ( 64th overall) to complete 5,000 runs or more in ODIs -- 5153 at an average of 34.81 in 164 matches, Just 28yrs of age...he is the best SL opener to carry forward for the future.

  • Andrew on May 29, 2014, 18:10 GMT

    Upul tharanga was totally eliminated from TESTS in 2007, to make room for another "Johnny", who is nowhere in the scene now! Obviously, if Upul did have any major weakness/flaws in his batting, he would not have survived to make 13x100 & 28x50 (including a score of 175 n.o. and a marvellous century at Lords). It is impossible to accumulated more than 5,000 ODI runs with 13 big Centuries + 28 Fifty plus scores, at the age of 28 yrs! He was the fastest & youngest SL player to pass the first 1000 ODI runs in their careers!! Can anyone with an iota of sense justify his elimination? I think he should be recalled immediately for the TEST SQUAD as well.!

  • Kirk on May 29, 2014, 17:44 GMT

    I would love to play cricket for SL and would hope I would cherish every game I played in. I think Sanga and Mahala have lost that passion and desire. I think there is an attitude within the team of there is always another game or another chance. I wish I had the cricket skills. Have the heart. Can the SL team say the same?

  • Samantha on May 29, 2014, 17:29 GMT

    Some posters in this forum are saying Tharanga's lack of consistency caused his demise & trying to justify SLC. Since July 2012 to the day he was axed July 2013, Tharanga had played 20 ODIs-2 N/O, and accumulated 567 R at an Av of 31.5 on home soil & lively decks! He has a Batting Av of almost FORTY (39.9) in his last 8 ODIs, before dropping in July 2013! Is this inconsistency for a player who had managed so many achievements right from the day he began his ODI career?

    Opener Tharanga 163 ODI innings -5228 Runs - 174* HS - 33.94 Average the e- S/R 73.86 with 13x100 & 28x50. (TEST stats: 15 Tests - 26 innings - 713 runs - 165 HS -28.52 Ave)

    5th Best batsmen in 2011-WORLD CUP (395 runs - 133 HS - 56.42 Avg - 472 Runs - 83.68 S/R 2x100 +1x50).

    He is holding the ODI world record for involving in highest numvber of 200+ partnerships SEVEN TIMES. Only Ricky Ponting has equalled this record.This is just a glmpse of Tharanga's records! Can A TECHNICALY FLAWED acheive this kind of Records.?

  • Harry on May 29, 2014, 16:23 GMT

    Yes sub-continental teams struggle in damp, dull, boring Eng conditions. The reality is this new Eng team lacks the fire of the previous teams except Anderson in the last ODI showing glimpses of his past. If Broad was in the squad along with Jordan it would have been ever more difficult for SL.

    So it is the approach that SL and India who are visiting Eng next should adopt - send in your best players of fast short pitched bowling as openers. For SL it is Mahela and Dilshan followed by Sanga and then Kusal. The top 4 should last 25 overs and score 100-120 runs. Then the last 25 overs can be played like a T20 game with par score of 225 and really good score of 250-275. For Ind they have to send Pujara, Rahane, Kohli and Rohit in that order in Eng.

    Matthews should take a positive approach to the game and inspire his team by playing a captain's innings like Misbah or Sanga has done in the past. He should be the strong middle-order batsmen that players like Chandimal can play around.

  • No featured comments at the moment.