Sri Lanka v South Africa, 1st Test, Galle, 5th day July 20, 2014

Only ourselves to blame for defeat - Mathews


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Sangakkara's wicket the biggest drawback - Mathews

Among the gleanings from Galle is evidence that Angelo Mathews is an evolving captain. This may be as true on the field, as it is off it. On the recent tour of England, Mathews had stirred up a minor controversy when he suggested to a Sinhala media outlet that the official suspicion over Sachithra Sennayake's action had something to do with his potency against England.

But in Galle, when the opponents were found to be scuffing up the ball in order to achieve an unfair advantage, Mathews was more reticent in his criticism, weighing each phrase carefully before committing to it.

The back of Sri Lanka's first innings had been broken by a reverse-swinging burst from Dale Steyn, but Mathews avoided incendiary language. "It is unfortunate if someone tampers with the ball and they get the better out of it," he said. "It's unfortunate for the opposition. It shouldn't happen and umpires need to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Mathews stopped short of using the word "cheated" when asked if he and his team felt that way, after the defeat. But he did suggest a connection with what Philander had done to the ball, and the way it behaved afterwards. "It's not within the laws and you can't really tamper the ball. But they did it to try and make the ball reverse. It did."

Mathews did, however, concur with what seemed obvious both on television, and live at the ground: South Africa and Steyn achieved considerably more reverse-swing on the third session on day three, after Philander had tampered with that ball, than they achieved on day five, at a similar stage of the innings.

This is despite the fact that pitches generally become more abrasive as the game wears on, particularly when no rain has fallen on them - as was the case between the third afternoon and the fifth day in Galle. Mathews was at the crease on both the third evening - during Steyn's spell - and on the fifth day, when the ball was at a similar age to the ball that was reverse-swinging appreciably on day three.

"No. There was not as much reverse today as on the third afternoon, to be honest. With the wind the ball comes in, but the third afternoon it was reversing quite a lot."

After day four's play, South Africa coach Russell Domingo had said "other sides are better at [ball tampering] than we are", but both coach Marvan Atapattu and captain Mathews said Sri Lanka "don't do it".

But despite the controversy, Mathews laid the blame for the defeat at his own team's doorstep. "In this Test only Sangakkara made runs. We have seven batters in the side and to expect one man to deliver all the time is wrong. We have to bat well against the world no.2 ranked Test team, whether you play at home or away.

"Even on this slow track, it was their fast bowlers who took wickets. Where we lost the Test was the failure of our batsmen to score runs on the first innings. If we had got another 100 runs in the first innings, we had a good chance of winning this Test."

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

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  • Dummy4 on July 22, 2014, 1:17 GMT

    Guess the Sri Lankans pushed for victory and took chances....... Sanga etc's dismissals were indicative of this..... Now, the equation is different: SL has to win at least one.... SL selectors: bring in youngsters like Dimuth K. At least he is pretty much sure to get a 50 in at least one innings.

  • shane on July 21, 2014, 22:36 GMT

    It's funny how some of the ppl praise AB Mathews, in fact he an average player in this low performing team look like a superman! I don't understand why he comes so low in batting order when he is in good form,& he is not a finisher fail to hang up with low order until very end like JP duminy. In my opinion he's wicket in first inning cost us 50 to 60 runs if he comes low down the order he should be hang in there till the last man.

  • Samantha on July 21, 2014, 18:19 GMT

    Solitary Formula to squire the series: At SSC, we need to put up a score in excess of 450. To do that, Tharanga, Sanga & Mathews need to play long innings without any foolish letups whatsoever (since the rest of the batting is so brittle & cannot depend on)!

    To achieve big individual hundreds for each of these players, Constant CONCENTRATION & will-power are essential in addition to their natural skills. These guys are capable of doing it & they have done that before. It maybe a wise move to promote Mathews in the batting order & send MJ at Mathew's spot. Best of Luck guys..!!!

  • Dummy4 on July 21, 2014, 14:33 GMT

    SL batting coach is a question mark. Remember when MA was a caption SL team for the India tour MA was out several times caught behind the wicket. The same way SL lost many wickets caught behind the wicket. That means MA has not found the correct foot work up to now. Should he be the SL batting coach or do we have better replacement for MA.

  • Chandani on July 21, 2014, 8:55 GMT

    Come on Captain !! Accept the fact that you were out played by a better team who played better cricket without giving lame excuses !! Saying if we scored another 100 runs on 1st innings we would have won !! What a joke !! Remember that they declared 6 wickets down and out of the 6 wickets atleast 3 -4 fell when they were trying to score fast !! Try to rectify

  • Sinhhalaya on July 21, 2014, 7:23 GMT

    Except for the captain himself, Sanga and the openers (barely) - MJ, Thiri and Chandi are inadequate (based on current performance). Tharanga, Mathews and Sanga all should have gone on to a century when they had the chance. The main difference between the sides is the quality of Elgar, Duminy, De Kock, Steyn, Morkel, Du Plessis, De Villiers and Amla. Otherwise, the two sides are pretty balanced. Looks like a 0-4 farewell for Mahela rather than the 4-0 boastfully predicted by an immature captain.

  • Parthiban on July 21, 2014, 6:21 GMT

    Sri Lanka has only two batters at the moment. Mathews and Sanga. The rest are just there to make up the numbers.

  • NIROSHAAN on July 21, 2014, 4:54 GMT

    Who will be our next coach. I was pretty sure that slc told that they have marvan only as the interim coach till sa tour, and judge his performance, no need to judge as it is zeero, so called batting coach even can't prepaire young batters for local flat pitch conditions even, donot for ger his holdingvthis batting coach position for last 3 years, what batters he has prepared for future, sorry no body, they are forst than first class cricketers , pls bring a foreign coach. And improove the standards prior to world cup, local coaches all have failed in srilanka, tske roy dias and rumesh, but they were good they left when the team is struggling, but dought marvan will ever leave as he has very strong blood relative in the slc

  • Dummy4 on July 21, 2014, 4:46 GMT

    Thirmanne and Dinesh Chandimal needs to go back to domestic cricket and improve. They have failed far to many times.

    Kushal Perera should be keeping at test level. Not sure why is he not included. Kithriwan should be in intead of Thirmanne

    Tharanga, Kaushal Silva, KC Sangakkara, jayawardena, Matthews, Kithruwan, Kushal Perera, MDK Perera, Herath, Lakmal, Prasad / Welegedara

  • Yohan on July 21, 2014, 4:43 GMT

    Statement made by Mathews shows how matured he has become as a captain . He could have easily make ball tampering the scapegoat of defeat . instead he pointed that excessive reverse swing caused by tampering i impacted a bit still its his team to be blamed for defeat . Great from Captain . But pretty poor from Philander and Domingo . Domingo would have done better to give strict instructions to his bowlers to avoid tampering than pointing other countries . Lost bit of respect for SA . i feel instead of financial charges , teams should be charged with runs (may be 100) and couple of match ban for player & captain . Otherwise we ll see this so often (like SA did thrice within nine months)

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