England v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Lord's, 5th day June 14, 2016

Mathews praise for Herath, Mendis

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'We wanted to go for it' - Mathews

Sri Lanka captain, Angelo Mathews, said Kusal Mendis' batting and Rangana Herath's "all-round" performances constituted the positives from the 2-0 Test series defeat against England. He was, however, non-committal on the struggling Lahiru Thirimanne's continued place in the Test XI.

Herath claimed seven wickets at an average of 43.28, and also hit 109 runs from No. 8 in the series. "Herath was superb," Mathews said. "He is 38 and he has backed the team with his all-round ability. He is even throwing himself all over the field. It was good to see the oldest man diving around and stopping boundaries."

Mendis made the team's lone half-century at Headingley, and hit 156 runs at an average of 31.20, with a strike rate of 65.27, through the series. Mathews said Mendis had earned a long run in the No. 3 position.

"If we pick someone, we need to give him a fair opportunity and be patient with him. We don't want to chop and change people. We need to find the best possible combination. When you identify a guy with skill and talent you need to persevere with him."

Thirimanne, meanwhile, had only hit one fifty in his previous 12 innings before the tour, but played all three Tests in England - perhaps on the strength of domestic performances, which have been consistently excellent. However, he mustered a highest score of 22 in five innings in England, and now averages 24.00 after 50 Test innings overall.

Mathews had described him as the "best batsman" in the team before the tour, but said "we haven't decided on certain positions" when asked about Thirimanne's performance in the series.

"This is a challenging tour for all the batsmen," he said. "I don't want to mention one particular player. We all have to take responsibility. Apart from Chandimal, no one was able to score a hundred here, and I don't want to let anyone down. We have to be a close unit and we have to keep working hard. We haven't made a decision on the No. 4 position."

Having folded for 91, 119 and 101 in the first three innings of the series, Mathews lauded the top order's relative return to runs in the second innings at Chester-le-Street, and then at Lord's. Sri Lanka's highest score of the series was the 475 in the second innings of the second Test, and though they lost five wickets for 43 runs on the third day at Lord's, managed totals of 288 and 78 for 1.

"This was a good learning experience for all of us," he said. "We are a young team and we don't have much experience. The way the guys fought facing Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad in challenging conditions was good to see. The way they batted and they showed lot of guts - it was brilliant. If we play together as a unit we can improve further. We played pretty well in the second innings in Durham. At Lord's, too, we were sitting pretty and then lost a heap of wickets on day three."

Mathews also echoed coach Graham Ford's words on day four, and said Sri Lanka would have attempted to chase down the target of 362, had the weather allowed a full day's play on Monday.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SajithaD on June 15, 2016, 15:56 GMT

    Would have chased 362 says mathews, LOL... That was the funniest thing he said after "Thirimanne is the best batsmen in the team"... Honestly I believed Mathews is a very intelligent and smart guy before he was appointed as captain. I believed he has everything under control when he stays so cool in difficult situations. But by now everybody must have understood Mathews stays cool because he has no idea about what to do.

  • SLslider on June 15, 2016, 8:29 GMT

    We all know what you have done. We have seen your captaincy for far too long. You are saved by some moderate performances from bowlers and batsmen in Lord's. Funny thing is that this team will continue to play. Thirrimanne is the worst player to have ever played cricket.

  • Ratne on June 14, 2016, 11:49 GMT

    Mathews don't have a spine to drop Thirimanne... Otherwise who will give 5 innings in England when his Test average is less than 25..

  • Aazir_aazy on June 14, 2016, 11:06 GMT

    Every time saying we do not have experience we do not have experience. he is not suitable for captaincy always negative thoughts praise him

  • prasanrod on June 14, 2016, 4:19 GMT

    I think thirimanne should be persisted for another while. I believe he has great potential to be a key player in the team. Its only a matter of one or two good innings to get him on track. May be the ODI's will give him a chance to get into mood and he should be persisted during the Australian test series as well.

  • Dilmah82 on June 14, 2016, 0:26 GMT

    Happy to hear Angelo's comments about going for the win.the weather ruined what could have been an interesting finish. Thought Pradeep had a reasonable series also. Future tours need better consideration by SLC before they approve itineraries. More tour games before and in between Tests, and against stronger opposition.

  • YHG4335 on June 13, 2016, 20:00 GMT

    There is no way Mathews can keep Thiri in the test team. If he is our best batsman as was claimed, how did Herath make more runs than him. Plus, a strike rate of 33 is absolutely rubbish. Even Kaushal Silva had a 45 strike rate and played positively in that second day at Lord's. Can't bat up the order, can't play with the tail. I see no reason to keep him in the squad, let alone the XI. Let Chandimal play at 4, and KJP keep and bring in an all rounder to replace Thirimanne. Or Mathews plays at 4, Chandimal plays at 5 as a batsman. Yes, he averages 80 at 6, but why waste him down the order? 5 may be the best position for him, though Mathews may not give it up. Mathews is our best batsman but he really should come up the order because before Sanga and Mahela were at 3 and 4 (even at the end of their careers, which is one of the big reasons why we are struggling to replace them), but now Mathews has to do more and coming up the order would help.

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