Sri Lanka v South Africa, 3rd ODI, Hambantota July 12, 2014

Mathews bemoans 'awful cricket'


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Missing crucial chances cost us the game - Mathews

Angelo Mathews is not used to his team losing a series. Not this year at least. So when Sri Lanka lost their first trophy of 2014 in their first home assignment, Mathews did not hold back on the criticism of his own side.

Sri Lanka played "awful cricket" on Saturday, he said, when they allowed South Africa to wallop 339 for 5, then fell 82 runs short of that score. There was no talk of "taking the positives" or dwelling on personal achievements. It was a match in which Mathews felt Sri Lanka "didn't do anything well".

First in the firing line was the bowling and fielding, which was particularly lackluster in comparison to South Africa's effort in the field. The hosts dropped Quinton de Kock on 38 and missed a stumping chance when he was on 71. De Kock would go on to top score with 128 and lay the foundation for South Africa's mammoth score.

"We don't deserve to win - the way we played today," Mathews said. "We started off pretty poorly with the ball and in the field. I think they got 20 to 30 runs too many. On the field we were pretty flat once again. Our fielding was not up to the mark. A team like South Africa is going to steal runs from us. We have to sharpen that up. We let a couple of crucial chances go.

"We know our conditions at home, so we should have played better. South Africa is a very good team, and we can't take them lightly, and I said that at the start of the tour."

No score in excess of 300 has ever been chased in Sri Lanka. Mathews, however, felt the hosts had a chance to win the match with the bat, but his team approached the chase poorly. Mathews top-scored with 58 at a strike rate of 72, and perhaps he wanted his team-mates to bat a little more like him - conserving their wickets and rotating the strike, in preparation for a big surge in the final 15 overs.

However, despite a rapid start, Sri Lanka lost three wickets for six runs between the 12th and 14th overs, effectively leaving the lower middle order with too much to do.

"The way we batted - I guess the middle order thought of getting the runs in 40 overs. We tried to get a few too many runs too soon and ended up giving wickets.

"It was a very good wicket. The middle order could have taken the game deep, we could have chased it. We kept losing wickets at crucial stages. There are about four 30s from the top order. When we are chasing 320, someone in the top four has to score a hundred. Two of their batsmen hit centuries."

Among his frustrations with the batting order is the problem of inconsistency. Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan have been prolific for the team over the past two years, but aside from Mathews, no other batsman has strung together significant scores through that period. Lahiru Thirimanne's Asia Cup may be the only exception.

"If we take Sanga and Dilshan, they are among the runs all the time. If the others can be consistent like that, that would be great for the side. We can't expect runs from a couple of players every match, because there are seven batsmen. Someone has to play well on a certain day. If we don't score runs and take the responsibility, the bowlers have nothing to bowl at."

The third ODI became a double blow for Sri Lanka because it put AB de Villiers in even better touch than he had been in, as he hit 108 from 71 balls. Mathews hoped Sri Lanka would bowl better at him in the upcoming Tests.

"AB is a very dangerous player, and when he gets going you can't really bowl at him because he scores 360 degrees. He's one of the best players I've seen and he's in great form, so hopefully we can get him out early in the Test matches."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sri on July 14, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    Thirimanne, Thirimanne ,and more Thirimanne ? what is his role in the side Can somebody please tell me and also the selection panel. He is the living embodiment of Chamara Silva who at the best could hardly get the ball off the square and now we are saddled with another Charming Chamara. When there are promising youngsters waiting just outside the door it has to be Thirimanne ,Thirimanne,and more THirimanne. Sri Lanka cricket please wake up and look around.

  • MAHENDRA on July 14, 2014, 3:56 GMT

    Thisara should select over Priyanjan because No 7 batsman should be able to score runs quickly. No 7 rarely need to perform long innings in ODI. Thisara also can bowl specially useful in Australia. Kusal has shots but no consistency. He should try to play long innings. Upul Tharanga is a experienced batsman can use as NO 5 preferralbly and as a opener also..Chandimal should play at no 4. Mahela and Thiri should be dropped. Thirimanna scoring runs very slowly. Bowling Lakmal, Herath and Eranga can join Malinga. Kula has lost his speed now. His 120 km speed is not enough to get wickets. At any cost MAHELA should drop. His aging has slow down his reflexes. He cannot score runs quickly now. He had his good years and remunerated. What more he expects from country? He can play tests. He look like Tendulkar who hang on Indian team in his last year which cost matches.

  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2014, 22:57 GMT

    Can we now drop Mendis and be done with it? He does get the odd lower order wicket, but he is a liability in that bowling line up. He has nothing to offer in the field too. It is time to try a guy like Prasanna frequently. He is a leggie and he can be used as a wicket taking option. We need a leg spinner in that line up to make the wicket taking impact in the middle overs. Hopefully the remedial work can be done on Sachi and will be back again too.

  • Rohana on July 13, 2014, 17:26 GMT

    Sri Lanka should not nominate permanent Vice Captain. VC position should be selected every tour based upon performances. If so Thirimanna could be dropped at any cost.

    Further, Test opener Kaushal Silva has good technique so that he could even try as ODI opener. Unlike keep any member at ODI team continuously, if two matches he fails, then he should be dropped.

    As we are closing to WC-2015, team must perform well in all aspects.

  • Dilsanda on July 13, 2014, 16:30 GMT

    Any opinion on my world cup 15........................... Mathews(c), Thirimanne (vc), Dilshan, Upul, Sanga, Chandi(wk), 2 of Mahela/Kusal/Ashan, Thisara, Mali, Lakmal, 2 of Kula/Eranga/Prasad, Herath & 1 of Sachi (if he is cleared - hopefully befor WC)/Mendis.

  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2014, 16:14 GMT

    we play bad cricket in specially is better to bring kausal silva for middle order then we have four batsman to anchor the innings.

  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    The mistake SLC did was choosing kusal to open which is not the suited place for him but because he has a similar jayasuriya technique they want him to be sanath and open though he bats in the middle order in the domestic matches

    Tharanga or maybe kaushal silva would be solid openers to partner dilshan and make big hundreds. Bring kusal to the middle order (he batted in aus) where we need batsmen who can accelerate without having thirimanne down there. Thirimanne is only suited at no.3 but sanga is at his prime atm so Thiri should not make it whereas Chandimal is far better and scores well at no.4 which mahela is grabbing and not preforming

    I would like so see this match winning XI as soon as possible if we want to win the world cup in Aus & Nz 1. Tharanga 2. Dilshan 3. Sangakkara 4. Chandimal 5. Kusal 6. Mathews 7. Thisara 8. Kulasekara/Eranga 9. Rangana 10. Malinga 11. Lakmal

  • shane on July 13, 2014, 9:29 GMT

    Don't understand the logic behind priyanjan selection over T perera. Only logic would be use him as a spinner & and a batsman but surprisingly AB Mathews used him as a pure low Oder batsman! Question is ? Why Can't T Perera use as a low order batsman if AB insist on using priyanjan as a purely lower order batsman?..need a batsman who can play 50 Runs 30 balls not vic versa! Poor captaincy by AB Mathews!

  • Shivantha on July 13, 2014, 9:12 GMT

    Sri Lanka's good run on 2014 was bound to end sooner coz some players were not consistent performers. Kusal is a true talent and a match winner useful for the fast bouncy tracks in Aus/NZ for the WC, but as an opener he must be capable of making a big score.

    Though MJ has done a wonderful job for SL over the years, now he has become a burden to the team. Chandimal should bat at No 4 & keep wickets.

    Thirimanne being a slow starter is also a burden unless he bats at No 3, which is already occupied by Sanga. Kula also did a good job in the past but we need to move forward replacing him with Lakmal. For the WC we need a third seemer like Eranga or Prasad who can take wickets and bat a bit.

    It's good to have Thisara in the side as a finisher. SL fielding must be improved, especially catching. Bold decisions are necessary if we are to keep winning and lift the World Cup (WC) 2015.

  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2014, 8:36 GMT

    Its an obvious matter that ODI team should always consist of young players despite in form pioneers.Nothing new can be expected from ageing players. One time they were top but not everyday. Accordingly ,Srilanka cricket has to take up many changes in order to prepare the next world cup otherwise you may loose thousands odd spectators from the ground.

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