Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, Colombo, 4th day

A hundred that Mathews might grow to regret

Angelo Mathews crawled to his maiden Test century at the SSC, and in doing so, did the game more harm than good

Daniel Brettig in Colombo

September 19, 2011

Comments: 101 | Text size: A | A

Angelo Mathews is overjoyed on reaching his maiden Test hundred, Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, SSC, Colombo, 4th day, September 19, 2011
A maiden Test hundred ... but at what cost? © AFP
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Test cricket died a little in Colombo today. With a match for the winning and a series to be saved, Angelo Mathews was so consumed by his personal goal that he all but forgot about Sri Lanka's.

To score a first Test century is a significant achievement, not least on the subcontinent, where statistical milestones carry plenty of meaning in themselves. But the way Mathews went about getting there, draining the match of much of its remaining life, did a good deal of harm to the game.

Cricket is often described as a team game for individuals, and there are times when the single-minded pursuit of a century can be precisely what the side requires. Sri Lanka needed Mathews to add to the lead, and to occupy the crease for time in the company of the tail. What they did not need was for him to choke up the flow of runs so comprehensively that only 45 runs seeped from 19 overs on the fourth morning, as Australia sat back in the knowledge that a draw would win them the series.

Every delivery that Mathews dead-batted cost his team, and gave Australia a greater chance of evading defeat. Every single he refused lessened the hosts' chances of winning the match, squaring the series and keeping fourth spot in the ICC rankings. And every over of hesitance and indecision reflected badly on Mathews, Sri Lanka and the game itself.

The inertia rather reflected the wider state of the Sri Lankan team in this series, as it wrestles with leadership, management and selection changes. This is not a dressing room from which firm directives were necessarily going to be delivered. Nor was it one from which the new captain, Tillakaratne Dilshan, would have declared on Mathews in the 90s, as Michael Atherton did to Graeme Hick at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1995.

Such dithering can cost a team more than momentum. At Port Elizabeth in 1997, South Africa were lording it over Australia until Adam Bacher lingered on the edge of a half-century for an interminable period. In that time he ran out his partner and then was dismissed himself, starting a pivotal swing in a match that was ultimately won thrillingly by the visitors, handing them the series. Such misadventures can be avoided by a team-oriented approach, and also by a stronger hand in the dressing room.

The absence of a fulltime coach since the exit of Trevor Bayliss has hampered Sri Lanka's progress. Uncertainty over the role, combined with Dilshan's fledgling leadership, has meant there is less accountability and direction than is needed. Rumesh Ratnayake, the interim coach, is a capable mentor without the authority of permanence. An overseas coach is being sought, perhaps Geoff Marsh, who will need to provide strong leadership and targets for the players to work towards. Otherwise there may be more passages like that witnessed at the SSC ground, and all will be poorer for it.

This was not the first time that Mathews had been complicit in an episode where team objectives were subservient to those of an individual. Dinesh Chandimal's ODI hundred against England at Lord's was reached via what can only be described as some extreme non-batting from Mathews, who pottered around for a single from 21 balls while Chandimal eased to his century.

Having watched it in the field, England's Alastair Cook wondered aloud at the point of it all: "I've never seen that before. It is clear what they were doing, but it was a bit strange. They're perfectly entitled to do that if they want, but it was slightly strange and you never know, the cricketing gods might look at that with a bit of disgust."

Mathews, it must be remembered, is probably Sri Lanka's next captain. He was pushed forward as a possible candidate to replace Kumar Sangakkara, despite his youth, and the appointment of the older Dilshan can be interpreted as a holding manoeuvre while Mathews grows.

He will, in time, take on lessons about the wider interests of the game, and about the need to risk defeat or personal failure in pursuit of a team victory. These are the values that an effective captain must hold, and Mathews will not be ready to lead until the day he can take a dimmer view of his first Test century than he did in the moment he reached it.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by HLANGL on (September 20, 2011, 14:26 GMT)

Mathews is at least quite new, so a century may have meant a lot to him. At least we can hope that he'll improve in future. BTW, isn't this how S'kara to a great extent & Mahela to (only) a slightly lesser extent, have accumulated all their 8000+, 9000+ runs, except may be only in a handful of innings ?. Just see their rate of scoring even in this same innings. After all these years of experience, that's how they are still scoring & building their statistics for their own sake. They still get some massive credit from the largely ignorant majority regardless of the runs they make not having much impact on the end result of the games. So why bother about a youngster who has just made his first hundred at the international stage while the seniors like S'kara & co. have been doing it for years & still not getting any blame ?.True, the flair of the game will die, 100% true. But the harsh truth is that the current SL batting has no flair at all, so there's basically nothing to be lost.

Posted by HLANGL on (September 20, 2011, 14:25 GMT)

Mathews is at least quite new, so a century may have meant a lot to him. At least we can hope that he'll improve in future. BTW, isn't this how S'kara to a great extent & Mahela to (only) a slightly lesser extent, have accumulated all their 8000+, 9000+ runs, except may be only in a handful of innings ?. Just see their rate of scoring even in this same innings. After all these years of experience, that's how they are still scoring & building their statistics for their own sake. They still get some massive credit from the largely ignorant majority regardless of the runs they make not having much impact on the end result of the games. So why bother about a youngster who has just made his first hundred at the international stage while the seniors like S'kara & co. have been doing it for years & still not getting any blame ?.True, the flair of the game will die, 100% true. But the harsh truth is that the current SL batting has no flair at all, so there's basically nothing to be lost.

Posted by drdatla on (September 20, 2011, 6:59 GMT)

mr tv radke, it is johnwright coach in that series not chapel.dravid isright in declaring because india didnot win a single test until then & he might have felt the team have to be given every chance to win

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 6:58 GMT)

This also reflection on bad Pshycological on sub Continent Side that personal mile stone prevails pver teams we sholud take the example of Australia south Afrca England who are making efforts of keeping test cricketalive

Posted by SMadampege on (September 20, 2011, 6:16 GMT)

I strongly agree with the person who wrote this article. I am also Sri Lankan. But I have to say Sri Lanka is the only country who betray a game for one person. There are lots of similar examples in recent past. We gave unfitted Murali for world cup final and it costs that game. Also to give a farewell to Jayasuriya, we didn't include a better player to side. To get Chandimal's century, Methews ruined balls. In the end that game was so difficult to win. This is shame actually. Our players are playing individual game and there is no team spirit at all. Remember Arjuna and his collegians won 1996 world cup because of great team spirit. But Sri Lanka can't go forward unless they stop this selfish behavior. I am sure Sri Lanka will become the situation of West Indies near soon. Shame to be a Sri Lankan by seeing these things.

Posted by Lord.emsworth on (September 20, 2011, 6:08 GMT)

A harsh article on young Mathews. Mr. Brettiq writes that cricket is a team sport and so it is.. Mathews knows only too well how frail the SL top order has been in recent times and his batting was more in the manner of staving off a team defeat rather than going for personal glory. Sure, he wanted a hundred too but he has been playing for SL since junior level and has breathed and lived team spirit for 10 years despite his youth. DB and others will do well to write about the regular SL failures in the VIP first innings where anchors Sanga & Mahela have failed often resulting in SL having their backs agaisnt the wall to stave off defeat. Making good scores once a series is lost isnt helping SL, just boosts averages....

Posted by VinodGupte on (September 20, 2011, 5:57 GMT)

@ stark_truth - Tendulkar moved from 174 in 322 deliveries to 194 in 348 deliveries in multan. That is not slow in test cricket. Dravid should have let him finish his double hundred. What's more, Dravid, only a few years later, let Kumble finish his hundred at the Lord's in a similar situation. Yes, it was an identical situation yet he chose not to declare. Why did he choose to declare in Multan is something we'll never know.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 5:49 GMT)

I reckon Lalinda De Fonseka's entry sums the situation up sometimes (with an eye to the future) individual "milestones"become the important feature . Power to Sri Lancan captain and young Mathews for allowing this to happen. S ometimes a win is only of interest for history

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 5:43 GMT)

The piece may be a little over critical but the fact is SL has won just 1 of its last 14 Tests. A draw here with make it 1 from 15 - not even Australia is going that badly at the moment!!

Posted by beejaytee on (September 20, 2011, 5:34 GMT)

Rubbish article. Angelo, batting with the tail, first had to try to ensure SL didn't lose another test. If he had gone down swinging early in the first session, it would have given Australia the best part of two days to build a lead and then attack an SL batting line up that has proven VERY shaky lately.

As it turned out, they were all out too early to take an Aussie win out of the equation. But if you can't see why they wanted to bat at least until after lunch, that's a failing on your part, not SL / Angelo's.

Posted by WTEH on (September 20, 2011, 4:57 GMT)

Ridiculous article by a so called expert. It is amusing how the author write about test cricket as some may have doubts whether he has actually touched a cricket ball in his hand. Cricket or any other sport should only be evaluated by people who have experienced in it. Otherwise this kind of garbage will be produced. It is wrong to harm the name of a upcoming great player just to get the attention of the readers.

Posted by GlodenLionKing on (September 20, 2011, 4:12 GMT)

Did Matthew cost the game for Sri Lanka only time will tell? Having said that is the article harsh on him, YES. What he did in England was priceless, giving a opportunity for a younger player to get a 100 in Lords. Remember he scored the final winning runs in the WC2011 Semi finals while he couldn't even walk properly. So does he deserve the 100, YES he does. Even when the senior players had a very low strike rate, can you blame him? Also remember he was denied a 100 in Galle too, ran out of partners. If Sri Lanka wins news on Matthew's hundred will be history OR he might even be a hero :-).

Posted by kitten on (September 20, 2011, 4:08 GMT)

It was frustrating watching Mathews bat. I know it was his first century at stake, and he is still a young person, so even though I feel he should be told in no uncertain terms that his country comes first, and not his personal milestones, he can be forgiven this time. This will in all probability result in Australia saving the match and thereby winning the series. But I am sure Mathews will see what has happened, and even if he hasn't, he will be told by numerous people how he jeopardized the series. But being a first mistake, I will tend to pardon him, and trust he will perform much better in the future.

Posted by Meety on (September 20, 2011, 3:50 GMT)

I think credit where credit is due, SL have done well to take back the iniative (briefly), after being outplayed in the ODIs & first 2 tests. They fought grimly in Oz's 1st innings, & then batted soundly in their 2nd innings. This is on the back of a fighting 2nd innings in the 2nd Test where they could easily have given up & lost the series. They are a sound chance on Day 5, (need at least one break thru before drinks). SL have taken 3 top order wickets of Oz, which keeps them a chance of winning. I'll be interested to see should SL bowl Oz out & need a target of 200+ off less than 40 overs - will they go for it?????

Posted by taniap on (September 20, 2011, 3:35 GMT)

There is truth in the article that (1) Now point ensuring a draw - SL will lose the series anyway. SL should have gone all out and tried to put up a considerable lead after lunch on 3rd day. (2) In any circumstances, if one is more focused on personal goals than the team, that is not right.

But having said that, Mathews has shown at an earlier incident also that he is not the best is judging the condition at such situations - so I think the team leadership (captain, coach, etc.) should have sent him a message on how to bat at that point.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 3:03 GMT)

@RJHB - I've been saying for years that Lara was noticeably selfish when he scored his 400. It guaranteed that WI would draw that game. At least Australia won when Hayden scored his 380 (albeit against Zimbabwe). I think too many people here seem to be focusing on Matthews himself (congrats, by the way), instead of the big issue of the article, that seems to have been missed, which is the lack of direction from the room for him to get a move on. I thought it was fine to allow him to get his hundred, but that he either should have started blasting away for runs, or that they should have declared right away. The problem wasn't him getting the hundred, but the few overs afterwards.

Posted by __PK on (September 20, 2011, 2:51 GMT)

This article is a little too harsh on Mathews. He's a middle-order batsman, batting with the tail, so he can't afford to take too many risks. Also he had the looming maiden century, which plenty of those in the media have criticised him for throwing away previously. A batsman's job is to bat - scoring as many runs as possible and/or occupying the crease as long as possible. If there are other priorities than these (eg scoring quickly) they need to come from the captain. Blame Dilshan for not running out an urgent "hurry up" message.

Posted by Mfalme on (September 20, 2011, 2:44 GMT)

It is pathetic to see so many irrational comments on Angelo's batting on 4th day. He is not solely responsible for SL slower run rate of 2.71. If SL had any intention of winning this test they should have scored much quicker and allowed enough time to bowl OZ out the second time on a reasonably good batting surface. It's not just Mathews alone with the tail in 19 overs but the entire top order should have collectively scored quicker and declared on 3rd evening. Before the final 19 overs the SL run rate was 2.76 and the final run rate was 2.71 shows that the 19 overs Angelo went slow hardly made a difference to SL innings. I am sure that all those who are slamming Angelo would not have batted any differently in a similar situation. Its easy to criticize others. Stop being critical and learn to look at the brighter side.

Posted by Ahsan_Shere on (September 20, 2011, 2:03 GMT)

@tvradke: They had to take 20 Pakistan wickets in just more than three days on a flat wicket & it was difficult thatswhy they declared & that was a correct decision. After scoring 675 or so runs there is no point piling more & thus denying victory. And on second day captain never know that we'll win before tea on fifth day so I should give him few more overs.

Posted by Will90 on (September 20, 2011, 1:13 GMT)

@ian ghose Did you watch the 1st day at all? Ponting, Clarke and Watson all played aggressively and gifted their wickets to Sri Lanka. I was delighted to see Ponting and Clarke, it shows they have the right temperament to SAVE a test match. We are 1-0 up in the series, our tactics should be to minimize the chance of a loss, even if it means the chance of a win is 0%.

Incidentally, this is the opposite of what Sri Lanka should be doing, which is maximise the chance of a win, even if the chance of a loss increases tenfold. Sri Lanka have really shot themselves in the foot here. Anybody who thinks Sri Lanka can still win this has obviously been under a rock, since they do not know the immovable object comes in at 6.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 1:02 GMT)

@ian_ghose: Keep in mind that when Matthews was batting, SL had to take the initiative to win the match and more importantly draw the series. When Aus were batting, their priority was to play for a draw and more importantly win the series. The reason why everyone is saying SL should have put the foot on the pedal is because by plodding slowly they gave Aus lesser time and overs to bat increasing the likelihood of a draw. Some of you may ask what difference will 10 overs may make? Well, rewind to Old Trafford 2005. This is test cricket and it has to be tough as nails.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 0:54 GMT)

Nice to see lots of people with Test experience & tons of test centuries under their belt making comments here...what would the cricketing world do without your expertise!! :P

Posted by RJHB on (September 20, 2011, 0:45 GMT)

I think its possibly a little harsh on Matthews, given he's still a newcomer to test cricket and hadn't scored a century before. Yes he dallied far too long but he'll learn from that. Plenty of other, far more illustrious and lauded legends of the game have been undeniably selfish in games over the years. I don't ever remember anyone labelling Lara selfish and bad for the game when he was compiling his record scores in test and first class cricket. How many of those games did his county team and the West Indies win by the way?? NONE as far as my memory allows! Nah the kid Matthews did ok, I'm glad it was him and NOT his belligerent skipper who got the ton too!!

Posted by   on (September 20, 2011, 0:22 GMT)

Danksl speak for your self, i don't go to watch the cricket to see an individual kill the chance of a team triumph. if the majority of SL fans feel the same well then might as well reside to the fact that our cricket has taken some serious steps backwards - what a Shame

Posted by MinusZero on (September 20, 2011, 0:20 GMT)

Well done Hughes and Mathews. And take that all you Hughes bashers. I have always felt that Hughes is a talent that deserve time to develop. At his age he has a massive future and should be given the time to make the most of it. I was also surprised that Mathews didnt push after making his century, i thought after that he would have tried to hit a few quick boundaries.

Posted by tvradke on (September 19, 2011, 23:54 GMT)

stark_truth: Tendulkar had moved from 172 to 194 in 28 balls. Not pottering around if you ask me. But Yuvraj was dominating the strike and hitting the boundaries while Tendulkar was content to take a single off the first ball of the over. If Yuvraj gave strike back to him, he would have moved quicker. Also Ganguly had nothing to do with that decision. It was Dravid and Chappell who made that decision. Plus it was barely 10-12 overs after tea on day 2 with India batting first and not early on day 4 of the test. I think it was wrong to deny Sachin his 200 that day and I don't think that decision had any influence in India winning the test (India won with almost 2 sessions to spare). It was merely a statement of aggressive intent from an Aussie coach and a confused captain. I really find it amusing that any topic that can be used against Sachin is never missed by people like you and you don't even bother to check your facts.

Posted by Meety on (September 19, 2011, 23:12 GMT)

@Herath-UK/Biggus - even though you have differing views, I think you are both right. @Herath - I think the SL tactics were to ensure that Oz couldn't win. I would not blame Matthews for the situation, not everyone can do a Hussey or S Waugh with the tail, he was not responsible for the other 4 wickets. However as @Biggus said, you do have to dangle a carrot sometimes to win. SL must win this match to get into the Test championship. They lose the series they drop to fifth, so a loss is really irrelevant, a win is all that matters. Whilst SL batted well, it is proven by past performances, that a 1st innings lead is not the most important requirement, particularly in a rain affected match. Time is. I think SL should of batted more briskly on Day 3 & declared 120 runs ahead with 10 overs to bowl at Oz on Day3. It would mean that if Oz batted well (they have), they would of had a big lead at stumps on Day 4, BUT, if they batted poorly & SL took all their chances, they'd win by Lunch Day5!

Posted by cricket_106 on (September 19, 2011, 23:10 GMT)

In response to Eli Mahendra, you may have noticed that this is under the 'features' section and isn't a match report. Cricket writers are kind of allowed to write about cricket as it is their job, and Cricinfo would be rather less interesting if there were no debates or opinions-just a thought. If you just want the facts, you are free to pore over the scorecard!

Posted by HatsforBats on (September 19, 2011, 22:58 GMT)

@ian_ghose: for much of his innings Hughes was striking above 80 and Watson wasn't exactly taking it slow. Marsh is always a slow scorer. The loss of 2 (& 3) wickets late in the day deemed that Ponting & Clarke shelve the big shots. A more aggressive approach and Aus could easily have been 5-6 down with only a 50 run lead, thus putting the game back in SL's control.

Posted by HatsforBats on (September 19, 2011, 22:53 GMT)

Anyone who isn't critical of the slow approach of Mathews is forgetting that SL are 0-1 in this series. Avoiding the defeat achieves nothing for them. Their best bet to save the series was to add quick runs to give themselves enough time to bowl out Aus and attempt to chase whatever target was offered; their slow approach has all but removed that chance.

Posted by Number_5 on (September 19, 2011, 22:37 GMT)

Firstly let me say well done to Mathews, a test ton,. something special. However with Sri Lanka needing a win to draw the series Mathews batting was perplexing to say the least. Then to see the field placings employed in the last two sessions, targeting leg stump and at times a 7-3 field you have to question what SL was trying to do??? Maybe the ICC should increase the prize money for rankings at year end to give teams incentive to play for the win..i dont know..Either way ive enjoyed the series to date and you get the feeling the last day could still prove exciting..

Posted by OliverWebber on (September 19, 2011, 22:21 GMT)

@Danksl: "if you talk to 2 million sri lankan fans they all would say we don't care about the test match but Angie" - I think that's a sad state of affairs! If individual performances count more than winning the match, you're missing the point! Anyway, we'll see what happens: a couple of early wickets and SL are still in with a chance.

Posted by om.pani on (September 19, 2011, 21:49 GMT)

according to mathews after the mach he said team asked him to add more first innigs lead (about 200)with tailenders. if u watched the mach u would seen after mathews scored 100 he also doing the same thing until receive samraweeras message.after that he played normal game.without knowing dont add this type of report

Posted by ian_ghose on (September 19, 2011, 20:58 GMT)

To be honest, the initiative lost by Mathews and co. has been somewhat handed back to Sri Lanka by Australia's own go-slow in the last session (70 odd runs in 30+ overs). I am quite bemused by their tactics. I'm a big fan of Ponting and it was sad to see him poking and prodding, which just seems to be against his natural game. Australia are only 50-odd ahead, when with a bit more aggression, they could well have been 120 ahead already. A few early wickets tomorrow morning might really leave them ruing their decision. It's also sad to see Sri Lanka playing so defensively. Maybe they've given up on the possibility that they can win test matches without Murali. In all likelihood it'll be a draw. But if Australia were to collapse and lose the game, they'd definitely need to look at their performance in the final session of day 4.

Posted by stark-truth on (September 19, 2011, 20:55 GMT)

'04 Series...India V Pak Test 1: Tendulkar was doing the same in Multan when nearing his double ton on an absolute flat pancake wicket. Ganguly and Dravid seemed concerned and summarily declared the Indian innings to teach Tendulkar a lesson - he was stranded at 194*. Later on , a glum Tendulkar complained that he "thought a few more overs should have been given for him to complete his drab innings!" Kudos to Ganguly!

Posted by CricketFan2011WC on (September 19, 2011, 20:40 GMT)

Well I am a Sri Lankan who agrees with the article. In my opinion, this appears true. Many current players seems to not care too much about the teams performance other than their personal goals. I am not sure whether I was miss informed, but in an occasion I got to know before the world cup final , the miracle doctor, Eliantha White ( sorry if I miss spelled his name) that turned Malinga's joint injury to a manageable level was available to offer treatment to Angelo. But, unfortunately he had turned down this offer as then he would not be eligible to get his insurance. I also heard that he is not a real physician and there are some complications to that. However, if he had made Malinga's problem to a manageable issue, the way he now plays the game I would have trusted his treatments. Anyhow, some cricketers, in my opinion I see who really had played games for SL-team to win (who are not anymore in the team) are Maharoof, Kapugedara and Chamara Silva. Even KS and MJ don't seem to care..

Posted by alphamale on (September 19, 2011, 20:16 GMT)

First 19 overs of the day in this test match: Day1 Aussies scored 40/2. Day2 Aussies scored 65/4. Day3 SL scored 53/2. Day4 SL scored 49/4. I don't know what Bretting is fretting about. Angelo let Eranga and Herath to face the bowling, but with No. 10 and No. 11, he was refusing the singles so that he can expose them less. This is called "farming the strike" in cricket jargon, Mr. Bretting.

Posted by Mushtanda on (September 19, 2011, 19:53 GMT)

Aus are techincally 52-3. Sri Lanka can very well win from here.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 19:51 GMT)

A journalist's role is to state the facts and let others draw the conclusions. This kind of reporting and continually harping unfairly on the Chandimal incident makes one wonder. Is there a patronizing attitude like how dare this little country compete on equal terms with others.

Posted by Danksl on (September 19, 2011, 19:32 GMT)

This article sounds very aussie. if you talk to 2 million sri lankan fans they all would say we don't care about the test match but Angie. Angie has done enough in this series to take 10 additional overs and play slow to get his maiden hundred. the same set of people said Angie doesn't have the will power to get his maiden century when he failed to do so in the first 2 attempts. Come on mate appreciate Angie's talent. I'm just one Sri lankan who represents the entire country who would like to tell you WE LOVE Angie too much where we don't mind losing the game for Angie. He will deliver more and more in future.

Posted by Winsome on (September 19, 2011, 19:26 GMT)

What a tough article. He was batting with a tail that has hardly been staunch in this series. In the long term, I think him getting this ton will do far more good than him trying to belt the ball and getting out before getting it. Getting a monkey off your back can have great effects.

It's still on Sri Lanka who are really in a position to win this match, but it looks like a tied on draw the track being what it is.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 19:15 GMT)

This is only Mr Brettig's opinion. What did he really want to see? For SL tail to crumble and then Aussies to put up a good score and have enough time to bowl out SL again? The issue is not so clearcut, come on! If you want to see big hitting, go watch T20. Unfair to blame Mathews. He took 256 balls for the century and 13 balls more for 5 more runs. Shows he wasn't motivated by selfishness. Don't be so quick to cast aspersion on a young player's character. Okay, compare the strike rates: Matthews 39.03 Sanga 44.88 Mahela 42.50 Marsh 39.13, 32.14 Clarke 25,21.62

Posted by Cric_fan1000 on (September 19, 2011, 18:43 GMT)

This article should have been published tommorow if srilanka loses or if the match was a close draw. Still i believe srilanka could pull off a win if there are 3 or 4 early wickets tommorow and mathews might turn out to be an (unlikely) hero. Daniel has taken a rish by publishing this article today.

Posted by Black_Rider on (September 19, 2011, 18:22 GMT)

@TWIC :: Completely agree with you mate.Most of the Sri Lankans forget things quickly.He is the highest run getter for Sri lanka in this series.He and Mahela almost won that Galle test match for us.Yes he was scoring slowly.But he didn't had any other choice.If he tried to smash and get out early all the people will blame him.What a world. He is a great talent.I still remember how he and Malinga won that ODI against Aussies in Australia.Anyway "........Congratzzzz Angelo......".

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 18:13 GMT)

we can forget a test and test series for matthews because he will give us more wins years to come.at lords we did it and we will do it again for any young player

Posted by Mutukisna on (September 19, 2011, 17:51 GMT)

I agree with the article though not in its entirety. Matthews is an intelligent cricketer but it appears that the team management and captain were complicit in this decision to protect the tail to achieve his century. Why did this ridiculous strategy commence at the fall of the 6th wicket? Surely,Matthews should have played his normal game until both Eranga and Herath were dismissed and should easily have reached his 100 by then. All this means that SL had spurned the thought of achievening a test victory against the Aussies. It also means that it puts their chances of competing in the first World Test Championship in 2013 at risk as only the four top teams in the ICC Rankings will qualify. As regards Matthews' negativity in the Chandimal century at Lords, I and my friends who were spectators were convinced that his actions were justified as there was absolutely no risk to SLs victory that day as SL were so far ahead in the run chase, irrespective of what Alistair Cook thought of it.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 17:21 GMT)

You already know by end of fourth day, Australia has 53 runs lead and 7 wickets left. Australia still has a chance to win this match ( knowing SL collapsed resonantly to low scores). First you need to look at the current match before looking at the series. Lets see what will happen tomorrow and then see whether another 50-60 runs made by more risk taking Angelo would have made any change to this match.

Posted by TWIC on (September 19, 2011, 16:46 GMT)

Wow, I cannot believe what I am reading!

In the first test SL scored 105 and 253, when that happened were there not calls for greater application from batsmen?! Were there not people asking for a better batting performance!? Was it not Mathews and MJ who actually showed some backbone in the first test!?

It is amazing how we blame the one guy who has actually shown some batting consistency in the series, for scoring a century! Blame for scoring a century!? Imagine if you were him, batting with the one of the worst tails in test cricket? Would you have gone out and smashed only to come back 2 balls later?

Look at it this way, if he went out and smashed, it would have saved about 10 overs. That means 10 overs more for Aus to get the runs, thats perfect for Watson, Marsh, Hussey to go 20/20 on SL!

Mathews isnt even a frontline batsmen, and yet this article blames him, absolutely shameful. And about personal milestones over team, does Mathews have the power to declare an innings? No.

Posted by goldeneye075 on (September 19, 2011, 16:34 GMT)

Fully agree with the article of Daniel Brettig. I was a huge fan of Mattews, but the way he batted towards the end of day3 and on day4 really have hurt sri lankan opportunity to force an result which is in favor. It id utter selfishness, and madness. A golden opportunity has been lost for SL. Sri Lanka should have had a lead of ~150 at the end of day 3, and would have been an interesting match. SL board/management and captain should looked at this matter closely, and need to avoid such situations in future, if not TM Dilshan will go down in the history as a failed captain.

Posted by demon_bowler on (September 19, 2011, 15:56 GMT)

"Michael Atherton has since said that he bitterly regrets having declared with Hick on 98, and that the event might have had an effect on Hick's psyche for the rest of his cricketing life" -- well, that's poppycock. Athers was absolutely right to declare at the time, whatever he thought later. England were trying to win a test and Hick was just tapping the ball back to the bowler. That kind of selfish attitude is not what is wanted in a test player.

Posted by Ahsan_Shere on (September 19, 2011, 15:51 GMT)

Srilankan approach was to play as much as possible of the 4th day hoping wicket would assist bowlers on fifth day but dressing room changed their approach after Mathews' century. He was playing defensively after his century too, not giving his partner much of the strike until the message from dressing room arrived.

Posted by Herbet on (September 19, 2011, 15:48 GMT)

I don't think Test cricket died at all today. Sri Lankan cricket maybe, Sri Lanka's chance of winning this game and drawing the series definitely and Angelo Matthew's standing a liitle too. Sri Lanka have shown that they lack leadership both in this instance and in the ODI mentioned at Lords. In that game Dilshan was visibly distressed on the balcony but the batsmen took no notice. That cant be a good side. If Matthews had played for the team and got out on 99 it would have been much better than what he achived today.

Posted by dilruk on (September 19, 2011, 15:41 GMT)

Good article...I believe SL Cricket Fans like me have reason to be disappointed. Sometimes the end justifies the means hence let's hope that we still win it but if we don't due to a lack of time then Mr Matthews and the management need to take a long hard look at this knock from a cricketer who is supposed to be a shoo in for our next captain. On this evidence he clearly has a long way to go...what's more worrying for me is why Dilshan didn't send a strong message out asking them to get on with it.

Posted by RKB21 on (September 19, 2011, 15:27 GMT)

This article is making a mountain out of a molehill. Most of what is written about the importance of statistics in the subcontinent is rubbish. The fact is the Indian and Sri Lankan batsmen are achieving similar and better milestones than did Australians of the past era playing with pride for their respective countries. As for Matthews' century, his strike rate is better than Ricky Ponting's second innings played on the same day and the same pitch.

Posted by sajansilwal on (September 19, 2011, 15:25 GMT)

i agree with you. the win and team's welfare comes a lot before the personal milestones

Posted by Biggus on (September 19, 2011, 15:18 GMT)

@Herath-UK:-I have to disagree there with you mate. Sometimes you have to risk a loss to aim for victory. If your scenario came about then SL MAY (highly unlikely in my estimation) have risked losing the series 2-0, which is not much worse than 1-0. What has happened is that SL have greatly increased Australia's chances of winning the series. So I think the appropriate question is, "Is it worth taking a very small risk that the series will be lost 2-0 in order to create a fairly good opportunity to draw the series?" Surely the answer must be a resounding "YES". Of course if SL do manage to win this game you and other apologists for Mathews actions will feel vindicated and a valuable opportunity to learn an important lesson will be lost. Compare and contrast with Mark Taylor declaring overnight with his score on 334 n.o. in 1998 Vs Pakistan in order to force a win. When we Aussies say Mathews should have played for the team these are not empty words. This is how we play the game.

Posted by Sri_chicago on (September 19, 2011, 14:55 GMT)

Wonderfully written piece. Well said, Dan. I enjoy reading your articles and this one is another gem. The last sentence sums it up beautifully. Keep them coming.

Posted by Adnived on (September 19, 2011, 14:36 GMT)

Dear Mr. Brettig, It simply shows that Angelo Mathews is a cleverer person than you are with a better cricketiing brain, well after all he is the vice-captain of one of the best international cricketting sides in the world. It is not too difficult for him to find the boundary, he is that sort of batsman, but he was mindful of the fact that he was the 'last man standing' and given Sri Lankas recent record it was better to save the match first and then strive for a win. It was not long ago that he showed what he is made of when he battled to give chandimal his century at Lords! That's the cricketer in him, he knew what it would mean for chandimal to get a century at Lords, so he is far from being selfish. Somehow Mr. Brettig seems a bit too keen on stamping on Sri Lankans?

Posted by NALINWIJ on (September 19, 2011, 14:31 GMT)

This article criticising Mathews looks at the obvious without considering the factors involved. Sri Lanka approached this match in the context of a series of poor batting and uncertainty. They had to eke out the largest lead and give Australia a worn out pitch. Mathews dismissal implied certain collapse given the quality of the tail.This innings showed the growing maturity of Mathews. Australian bowlers did not give an inch and Copeland was miserly. Australia is now 52 runs up with 3 down. 2 quick wickets would see Haddin and the uncertain tail in a spinning pitch. The first session will determine the outcome.

Posted by Gizza on (September 19, 2011, 14:24 GMT)

Mathews looks like a Tendulkar in the making. Batting for yourself and not the team. The best teams in the world don't care about hundreds, runs and wickets they care about winning. The other things like runs and wickets come naturally after winning anyway but they are secondary in focus. It is why I would prefer picking a Gilchrist or Ponting ahead of a batsman who plays normally from 0-90 then for 90-100 takes up 50 balls. Even looking at India's successes overseas, normally it is the less selfish batsmen that have performed like Sehwag who still bats fast if not faster when he's in the 90's or 190's or like Dravid and Laxman who although generally slower actually step up on the tricky pitches and don't lose their wicket when the match is right in the balance. I hope the younger subcontinental cricketers look at the unselfishness of Aus/Eng/SA and try to emulate that but it is unlikely since even the fans are focused on player stats instead of team, part of Sth Asian cricket culture.

Posted by vallavarayar on (September 19, 2011, 14:16 GMT)

Sri Lanka for all it's supposed penchant for attractive strokeplay and free spirit, is a seriously slow scorer in tests. I can't be absolutely certain, but the run rates over the last 10 years should prove this out. An attacking approach is not really Sri Lanka's style in tests. Sanga was responsible for a few test match draws when a more attacking approach would've yielded a win.

Posted by Marcio on (September 19, 2011, 14:13 GMT)

Yes, it was strangely defensive cricket by SL. I predicted they'd come out all guns blazing today in order to set up a winning margin and enough time to bowl AUS out. Really, SL has not played well in this series, and seems to lack determination and self-belief. AUS seem to want to win more. At the beginning of the series I said that the teams were evenly matched, but that AUS would have the mental edge. It seems I was correct. Congrats to Phil Hughes. I hope the haters go away and chew on some humble pie for a while. I said it was only a matter of time before he started scoring big centuries. Anyone who has actually watched the series could see he has batted reasonably well, scored in the 20s and 30s every time (till the first innings here) but has had some REALLY rotten luck when he looked set for a big score. Luck comes and goes. Class is forever.

Posted by Mfalme on (September 19, 2011, 14:10 GMT)

Well Well Well ! I can not understand what all this fuss is about. Why can't people pause for a moment and think twice. If Angelo did not manoeuvre the strike the tail would have folded much quicker than it actually did and SL would have hardly reached 440. Also anyone who believes that SL attack can bowl the OZ out on a flat pitch inside 1 1/2 days is actually dreaming. I totally agree with @Herath-UK on Chandimals ODI 100; There were hardly 20 runs to make with more than plenty of deliveries left. Also I admired Angelo's self belief that he could finish it off with just few deliveries. Would like to remind Cook, and those who agree with him, that there are loads of much worst things that are happening in cricket that the cricketing gods should get DISGUSTED about.

Posted by ian_ghose on (September 19, 2011, 14:02 GMT)

While i'm glad I missed Mathew's farce at the beginning of the day, I did get to watch the last hour or so of play, and I was equally disappointed with the way Australia batted. There seemed to be no intent from either team. It was as if both teams would have been happy if the match was to be called off at the end of day 4 itself. I was really hoping to see Australia grab the initiative and try and get a substantial lead today, which they could increase further in the first hour and a half tomorrow and give Sri Lanka a tricky 2 sessions. But the way Marsh, Ponting (very disappointed to see Ponting plodding, it's so against his natural game) and then Clarke killed the momentum, didn't make for very attractive viewing. Sri Lanka were also content bowling a negative line. Maybe more Galle-like pitches will make it interesting.

Posted by dukeduke on (September 19, 2011, 13:56 GMT)

This article is spot on. I am appalled at the way Mathews batted. This isn't the first time either, he did the exact same thing during Chandimals century in England. He clearly puts personal milestones ahead of the teams goals.

For the commenters who say "what if he got out" . That's ridiculous. Getting out under normal circumstances is completely different from transforming the match into a stage for your own personal milestones. I am a lankan supporter but this was just DIRE.

Posted by Sulaimaan91 on (September 19, 2011, 13:55 GMT)

Something just blown out of proportion, even if he was past his hundred he would have had to bat that way coz he was batting with the tail.Had he taken those singles he would have exposed the tail.SL wouldnt have got even those 45 runs had he done that.Add to that the tight Aussie bowling and not taking the new ball.It wasnt that the rest of the batting, except Dilshan, scored freely.

Posted by njr1330 on (September 19, 2011, 13:49 GMT)

You mention the Sydney test of 1995. Michael Atherton has since said that he bitterly regrets having declared with Hick on 98, and that the event might have had an effect on Hick's psyche for the rest of his cricketing life ... doesn't affect the fact that Matthews was monstrously slow - and not for the first time!

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 13:47 GMT)

@KK_Cricket- Well..Wel cannot agree on this statement mate......Matthews may be talented but far from being what other youngsters are in South Africa, England, Australia and India...........so you are compareing Matthews? based on what? talent? you point does not make any sence.........if you have more than 10 nations playing the game of cricket ....every other youngster should be same ..with talent like Aus,Ind,....ect...get a break????????

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 13:39 GMT)

@ca2ca-Cannot agree with you on" shows the lack of intention or knowledge by SL cricket , either to score freely or declare early" - The desicion has to be made by the captian.....and it could go wrong or fine at the end of the day...and SL cricket canot be blamed ....well I think that he way this has been done in Subcontinent level is difrent than in Eng,Saf,or Aus....think diffrent??

Posted by Herath-UK on (September 19, 2011, 13:29 GMT)

Well I donot agree with you Daniel or most fans here;there is another angle probably the team considered;had Sri Lanka scored same runs soon and gave more time to Aussies who then would have gone for a lead quickly(quite possible with the flaccid pitch) and asked SL to bat on the last session or so on the fifth day,SL who is not in the best form might have collapsed resulting in another loss.As Nasser (Hussain) said it is first to be dead sure that you won't give the opponent a chance to go for a win.And I don't agree with you on Chandimal issue too;Mathews did the right thing giving his colleague all the chance to score a century and I was on the ground and those few runs were there all to be taken,there was no risk at all except the irritation that caused the England.Well done Mathews. Ranil Herath - Kent

Posted by CricketPissek on (September 19, 2011, 13:23 GMT)

During the England ODI series, he was instrumental in getting Chandimal to a 100, at risk of costing SL the game. He was applauded by some for helping a youngster, but you could see his mentality from that. Now that he's done it for "selfish gain", he may lose his supporters.

Posted by RandyOZ on (September 19, 2011, 13:10 GMT)

mathews century is of no consequence as MEK Hussey hasnt batted yet

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 13:09 GMT)

This catastrophe must rest squarely on the shoulders of the senior players and the coaches. Why they did not get into a more commanding position could be that the Austrailians bowled brilliantly. They fielded better than the did in the Ashes and thjis fact speaks a lot for Clarke's captaincy. In the Sri Lankan dressing room were three former captains and Dilshan the present one. It was obvious that Prasanna Jayawardena's dismissal curbed the scoring rate and to this we have to add that the SSC surface skids till the sun dries it. Matthews is not an intelligent cricketer from what we have seen and if one day he has to skipper Sri Lanka I am sure we will end up at the bottom of the ICC table in both forms of the game.

Posted by likeintcricket on (September 19, 2011, 13:06 GMT)

That is why most batsmen records in subcontinent specially India and Sri Lanka are so great but their team records aren't that impressive.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 13:06 GMT)

what anyone can say about these types of effort in sports where personal stats are important than their country pride and reputation

Posted by danney707 on (September 19, 2011, 13:06 GMT)

A very well article. Mathews indeed is a very talented and a smart cricketer but he should have thought about his team interest. I remember last year Azhar Ali was batting wit the tail against England. Even though Azhar is quite orthodox in his approach but he still managed to raise the tempo and gave Pakistan a lead which eventually gain them a victory in that test. He scored 92 and missed his century. Mathews straight bat tactics not only wasted precious time but also really hurt the momentum that SL had at that time.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 13:02 GMT)

what can u say about these types of stuff where every individual players of sub-continent wants to improve their career stats rather than their team stats

Posted by Ellis on (September 19, 2011, 12:49 GMT)

Unless Brettig has a clear understanding of the instructions given to Mathews, he is speculating. As for Cook's comments, they are not to be taken seriously. Pontificatory comments from England players and officials should be treated for what they are- nonsense and self-serving. Brettig should get facts before he puts out views.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 12:40 GMT)

Well written article.Instead of blocking every ball to reach his ton when he was running of partners he should have completed his ton quickly and added some 20-30 extra runs to the lead.And Sri Lanka in general batted very slowly against a new look Aussie attack,particularly Mahela n Sanga though their intention to build a stable partnership when 2 wickets fell early.

Posted by unregisteredalien on (September 19, 2011, 12:17 GMT)

@Abhishek Rao: erm, are you serious? If so, three words for you: "Sachin Is God".

Posted by Ahsan_Shere on (September 19, 2011, 12:17 GMT)

Any approach against Australian favor will be thwacked if it has a fraction of negativity in it!

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 12:14 GMT)

this is completely ridiculous if he had tried to hit the ball out for a six and got caught out in the boundary he would have been criticised...this is completely biased....if we take it positively this innings shows maturity in Mathews..who is considered a power hitter!

Posted by TeamRocker on (September 19, 2011, 12:11 GMT)

Well, Australia have ended the day on 209-3 with Hughes batting on a century, so I agree with Brettig.

Posted by Beazle on (September 19, 2011, 12:11 GMT)

The sub continent problem perfectly illustrated by Matthews. It is precisely this obsession with the individual -rather than the team - that leads to the over adulation of people such as Tendulkar (who has never been a matchwinner -unlike Sehwag, Laxman, Glilchrist or Lara) There is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of Indians would rather see Tendulkar get his 100th 100 -rather than India win the match.

Also I note the continuing decline of Ponting -who at least, has always put the team first ahead of personal milestones -

Ponting's test career is interesting -

T I NO RUNS Av 100/50 In the last 5 years- 47- 84 -3- 3248- 40.09- 6/ 21

In the 5 previous years- 57- 100- 15- 6158- 72.44- 24/ 21

Posted by Walagambahu on (September 19, 2011, 11:53 GMT)

Excellent article & very well said ! As much as I like Mathews as a player, I just cant understand his selfishness play yesterday & today. Called it selfishness, stupidity, lack of experience, nervous 90's or what ever, but the bottom line it has virtually put a black mark on Sri Lankan cricket. We are 1 nil down having already lost the one day series, and Mathews pretty much destroyed leveling the test series and gain some pride doing so. Some Sri Lanakan supporters think Mathews should be the next skipper. As a true Sri Lankan fan, for me its a scary scenario to even dream of. Having a selfish & illogical person as a caption is the LAST THING SRI LANKAN CRICKET NEEDS NOW !

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 11:53 GMT)

If Sri Lanka are 5 overs short of chasing a winning total tomorrow ( say 30 - 40 runs) then how will SL fans feel. Cricket is a team game. It doesn`t mean anything if a player scores a hundred if the team loses. If Matthews is so keen on his own achievements before that of the teams why doesn`t he take up golf.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 11:47 GMT)

Disagree completely with "To score a first Test century is a significant achievement, not least on the subcontinent, where statistical milestones carry plenty of meaning in themselves." NOT IN INDIA ATLEAST...!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by India_boy on (September 19, 2011, 11:45 GMT)

whats up with SL and centuries??? first dilshan cunningly denied sehwag a century in that ODI, then chandimal and matthews took forever for that century and now this. matthews has totally cost his team the victory and chances of squaring the series. imagine the mood in SL camp when an off-color Aus team visits SL, the only place SL plays good cricket,and beat them...!

Posted by Page2_Fan on (September 19, 2011, 11:41 GMT)

Matthews century or not...Aus would have won or drawn this test.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 11:24 GMT)

Well written. Also not forget Imran Khan's declaration when Miandad was nearing his tripe hundred. Even that was the right decision.

Posted by ca2ca on (September 19, 2011, 11:23 GMT)

This is in the culture in sub continent cricket. Personell achievements before looking for ways to win. 45 runs in 19 overs by tail enders, shows the lack of intention or knowledge by SL cricket , either to score freely or declare early. That is where Aus, Safs or Eng are miles ahead. Good article I hope opens SL cricket eyes and brains.

BTW Matthew,among current batsmen has got a higher (or highest) average wo a century.

Posted by KK_Cricket on (September 19, 2011, 11:19 GMT)

The match is already heading for a draw... Really could not understand why Sri Lanka did not attack in 3rd session of Day 3 and first hour day 4. They could easily have been 230 ahead, giving Australia no hope what so ever but that did not happen... Matthews may be talented but far from being what other youngsters are in South Africa, England, Australia and India..

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 10:51 GMT)

He did same in an ODI against England for Chandimal's 100..

That instance was frustrating but that was not this bad because they always had time to win.. This Innings was too bad..

He should have thought about Team than his 100..

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 10:50 GMT)

i dont understand this criticism .. so he took 19 overs to make 45 runs on 4th day... i think if he had played aggressively he could have completed that in say 8-9 overs and hence saved say 10 overs max ... how would have that made any difference ?

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 10:31 GMT)

This is the second time he was criticized such.before it was when he was delaying the ODI win against England to make way for Chandimal to score Lords 100

Posted by Farce-Follower on (September 19, 2011, 10:24 GMT)

Hey, he's just followiing some of the sub-continental greats, for whom hundreds mean so much. Series can be lost, but personal landmarks remain. This has been the meaningless interpretation of the game by some of the fans.

Posted by Rukmankan on (September 19, 2011, 10:24 GMT)

I agree. I'm a big fan of Angelo Mathews but 45 runs in 19 overs and losing 4 wickets in the process was just not on. Hopefully his 'Nervous 90s' episodes are behind him.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 10:18 GMT)

Very brave article to write this...ur going to cop alot of flak from some sl fans i reckon.

Daniel makes an excellent point though, personal milestones sometimes have to be sacrificed in the interests of the team and perhaps it is Dilshan's fault that he did not declare on Matthews. Examples of such actions abound, from the one mentioned to when Imran Khan declared to leave Javed Miandad on 287*.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2011, 10:10 GMT)

this atricle is rediculous!!!! mathews deserved a century.... thats all... why to worry abt all those dot balls....??? if lankan to win this match.. the turnaruond can happen in 2 0r 3 session...

Posted by alexbraae on (September 19, 2011, 10:07 GMT)

I'm not suprised at how Matthews played. Yes he was going for a century, but he was also batting with one of the weakest tails in world cricket, and frankly every run further ahead SL could get was vital.

Posted by crickstats on (September 19, 2011, 10:06 GMT)

I think the problem was not Mathews but the team management, they should have gone for quick runs last night and declared overnight, but it seemed SL wanted to bat for an hour in the morning which they did, albeit rather slowly,

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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