Angelo Mathews March 27, 2010

'I want to be like Garry Sobers'

Interview by N Hunter
The Sri Lankan allrounder talks about jockstraps, nicknames and meeting Priyanka Chopra clad only in a towel

What was your nickname in college?
Jocka, from jock, or underwear. I really didn't know why they called me that. But I was not offended because I knew it was a joke.

What are your nicknames in the Kolkata and Sri Lanka dressing rooms?
"Angie" at KKR. And "Superman" in Sri Lanka, because I wear my jocks over my tights.

Why do you that?
My legs are a bit bulky and I get scratches, so I wear the jocks over the tights.

We hear you were the teachers' pet in college and everyone liked you?
Most of the teachers liked me because I was humble, even though I was naughty.

What Indian movie stars have you met during your time at KKR?
I met Priyanka Chopra one time. We were in our towels, coming out of the pool. She was with Shah Rukh Khan and we didn't recognise her immediately. I only looked at her when one of the players said it was Priyanka. We were happy to see her. It was embarrassing being in the towel, but she was very nice.

What about Shah Rukh?
He speaks a lot with us. Every time, before or after a game, he tells us the result doesn't matter. He spends a lot of time with us, which is very encouraging.

If Sri Lanka made it to the World Cup final and you were in the side, what would you write on the whiteboard in the dressing room before the game?
"We will win it."

Do you know how the Kolkata team song goes?
Gorbo, lorbo, jeetbo. [Nearly correct: it is Korbo, lorbo, jitbo.] It was the first thing my manager told me after I got the KKR deal.

Is there a game from history where you wanted to be the player who turned the match on its head?
Sachin [Tendullkar] scoring 200. Scoring a double in an ODI is very special and only one man has done it so far, so it is great.

Speaking about landmarks, you missed out on your maiden Test century when you were run out on 99.
Yes. I felt so bad. Getting the first Test hundred is very important to a cricketer. It was a very disappointing, very emotional moment for me.

Did you cry on returning to the dressing room?
Quite a bit, but I recovered quickly. My senior team-mates, like Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, told me they had been through similar situations and that there will be many more opportunities in the future to come back and get hundreds. Those were kind words.

Who is your favourite athlete outside cricket?
Roger Federer. He has been through a lot, losing so many times earlier in his career. But he came back without giving up on his game.

Tell us something we don't know about you?
I can cook a little. Pasta and the Sri Lankan dish pol sambol.

What's the one thing tourists should never do in Sri Lanka?
Don't feed monkeys, because they will keep coming back and become a pain.

What's a curse word you can use in Sri Lanka that people will not be offended by?
Pissu. It means crazy.

Name an allrounder you would like to emulate.
Sir Garfield Sobers. If I can be like him even a little, it will be wonderful.

Did you know he was the first Sri Lankan coach?
I didn't know that.

How come you don't have tattoos, earrings or gold necklaces?
I just want to be me. For me, colouring hair, wearing tattoos, piercing does nothing. I just want to be my natural self.