Oval incident prompted Strauss to recall Mathews
Andrew Strauss's decision to recall Angelo Mathews after he had been run out at the Wanderers was, according to the England captain, influenced in part by a similar incident under Paul Collingwood's leadership last year. Mathews was run out in the 40th over of Sri Lanka's innings after pushing Graham Onions to leg and taking off for two. But as he turned for the second run, he collided with Onions and stopped as Matt Prior took off the bails.
Mathews hung around for a while, unhappy with the decision and gesticulated to no one in particular, as sections of the crowd booed. The England team got into a huddle and after Mathews was more than halfway back to the pavilion, Strauss spoke to the umpires and called him back, a move applauded immediately by a small crowd.
Mathews was dismissed a few balls later in any case, but the incident bore resemblance to when Grant Elliot of New Zealand collided with Ryan Sidebottom in an ODI at The Oval last year. Collingwood was captain then and didn't recall Elliott - though he regretted not doing so - and was subsequently lambasted in sections of the press.
And Strauss admitted that memories of the criticism prompted him make his decision tonight. "I didn't see it because I was watching the ball at the time," Strauss said. "I then had a chance to look at the replay and the umpires said: 'Well, it's upto you if you want to call him back.' My feelings on it were that it just didn't look right. I also thought he was going to get back for the two quite comfortably if he hadn't collided. I would certainly say that I don't think Graham Onions did anything wrong. There was no malice there at all. Other captains would be quite within their rights to not call him back. But I just felt...possibly having seen Colly castigated for doing it a couple of years ago, it probably wasn't the right thing to do."
Collingwood, who was the Man of the Match tonight, said he didn't get involved in the decision. "I tried to keep out of it, to be honest. I just left him to make his own decision. But Straussy was straight in there, had a look at the replay and said: 'We'll bring him back'," he said before adding, in jest, "I couldn't believe it!"
Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, also supported the notion that Onions' collision was unintentional. "It was an excellent gesture of sportsmanship and in the spirit of the game. It's all a matter of interpretation and it depends. It might've been an accident but at the end of the day the right thing was done."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo