Sri Lanka news July 12, 2017

Chandimal to lead SL in Tests, Tharanga in shorter formats

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Dinesh Chandimal has been named Sri Lanka's new Test captain, after Angelo Mathews stepped down from the role in all formats on Tuesday. Upul Tharanga will take over in ODIs and T20s.

Chandimal had served as Mathews' deputy and led the T20 team in the past, while Tharanga led the ODI team when Mathews had been injured.

Speaking at the press conference to announce the new captains, Mathews, who quit following the 3-2 ODI defeat at home to Zimbabwe, said: "Yes, there have been significant poor performances, and I'm humble enough to accept it. In the past also there were instances where I wanted to step down but I didn't want to let the team down at that time, mainly because there were no replacements. The team's interests supercede my personal interests.

"There were two things working in my mind. The first is whether this was the right time considering the team. My honest opinion is that there are candidates who can take over the reins. I'm pretty sure that they will be more successful and better captains than me. I also wanted to give my successor enough time until the World Cup, to build up a team. Those were the main reasons for me to step down."

Mathews said that although he was disappointed with Sri Lanka's results in 2017, he resigns having given his best to the job.

"I have at all times played in the exclusive interest of Sri Lankan cricket, and have not at any time compromised my national duties for any personal gain," he said, reading a portion of his letter of resignation to the board. "I have at all times given utmost priority to making myself available over any franchise commitment, and have at times pre-terminated franchise commitments in order to fulfill national obligations. Subject to me being selected for national duty, I would ensure my fullest commitment to the national cricket team. Moreover, I would at all times support and guide our profusely talented young team, as well as my successor, in every way."

Chandimal was always a top contender to take over from Mathews, particularly because he had been groomed as a leader in the past. Though Chandimal's patchy form in ODIs led to his exclusion from the recent squad to play Zimbabwe, he has matured as a Test batsman - most recently making a difficult ton against Bangladesh at the P Sara Oval. He averages 41.17 since the start of 2015, and has scored 2540 runs at an average of 42.33 all told. Chandimal had also been a successful captain at school level, leading Ananda College to record number of outright victories in his senior year.

"I want to take this team and Sri Lanka forward, so I will put my heart and soul into the job," Chandimal said after the announcement. "I'm very thankful to the job that Angie [Mathews] has done for us. Captaincy is not an easy job and he was an excellent leader for us over four-and-a-half years. He's also a terrific batsman and a match-winner for us, and I have huge hopes that he will continue to be one in the coming years as well."

Tharanga's rise to the limited-overs captaincy has been sharper. He had been dropped from Sri Lanka's limited-overs sides as recently as the first half of 2016, but has since led the team in 14 ODIs, as acting captain in Mathews' absence. He has been in excellent form in recent months, however, averaging 49 in ODIs since November. He has been moved around the batting order during that time, sometimes opening the batting, and batting in the middle order at others. Sri Lanka have won four and lost eight of the ODIs Tharanga has captained - six of those losses coming against South Africa.

Tharanga also thanked Mathews for his leadership, and the selectors for giving him the opportunity to lead. He acknowledged that Sri Lanka's recent performances had been modest.

"I don't want to say that as a team we've done poorly in the recent past, but we have had some ups and downs," Tharanga said. "Some matches we do well, and others we don't. In future we have to be more consistent. We all want to take Sri Lanka forward."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Paul on July 14, 2017, 8:17 GMT

    Good luck to the Sri Lankan team under their new captains. I watched 2 series SL played in NZ under capatain Angelo Mathews, they didn't fare too well in Kiwi conditions but the team always conducted themselves well and never made excuses even in defeat. Mathews always seemed polite and collected and I'm sure I never saw any poor behavour on field under his captaincy.

  • Mantoo on July 14, 2017, 2:03 GMT

    Chandimal ??? Not Again. How many opportunities SLC will give him. He is worthless and doesn't have the temperament and maturity to play at highest level. His judgement on match situation is pathetic.

  • manjula on July 13, 2017, 19:25 GMT

    Many mentioned about M. Pushpakumara. I think should hold-off with him now. SL had too many changes and experiments driving to SL to bottom.

  • manjula on July 13, 2017, 19:23 GMT

    Appointments are good. But I think Dickwella is better. Good leaders are aggresive and take risks. Not afraid of changes. Dickwella has it.

  • Prem on July 13, 2017, 10:43 GMT

    Great words by Mathews. Looks like he was forced to resign. He was doing a good job. Chandimal is a good choice for Tests but Tharanga is not consistent and permanent enough in the team to be given the ODI and T20 reins.

  • Herath on July 13, 2017, 9:05 GMT

    The reason for keeping Pushpakumara away for so long is due to the fact that he too is a left armer similar to Herath. Herath himself said at a press briefing that both cannot play in the same team as the attack will lack variety. It does make sense but keeping him away from all serieses is a mistake they are making, he should have been introduced in some of the test matches at least a year ago and Herath could have taken a rest in those matches. He is at his prime right now and has been for the past 4 years, it's a mistake they are making. Herath has been a fantastic bowler and his service is greatly appreciated but he needs to retire within the next 6 to 12 months to ensure that SL will be able to take full advantage of another potentially world class bowler before he loses his form, as SL Cricket will just dump Pushpakumara if he goes through a lean patch in the 1st class arena during the next 12 months (assuming Herath will stay around for another 12 months).

  • johanan on July 13, 2017, 8:07 GMT

    Anushman Good move ,Chandi is best Cap if you the matches ,he captained in the Past his tactical moves were brilliant. in SA we were able to see it when he captained. He has done it for his School and had many outright wins in his days. Ppl never praise him when he has scored . some fans doesn't follow all games & comment.As a 21 Yr Kid Chandi scored a wonderful 110 vs Eng @ Lords coming @3 after an early wkt when the ball was moving.then on his Test Debut he scored twin 50s in the Durban Test vs SA where SL won. Sanga was out for 0. Mahela & Mathews didnt score much in that test. Next Yr Chandi was the 2nd highest scorer for SL in the Aus VB Series. Most runs:Warner 458 D Hussey 420 VKohli 373,Dilshan 505 Chandimal -414,SK 401. lately he Scored 167 vs IND in the 2015/6 Galle test when all failed. again he scored a big 100 vs Bng recently when others struggled. still his ODI avg is 33. which is MJs avg. he is the best keeper. safe fielder. he has failed recently but hell come good.

  • hthisu3298425 on July 13, 2017, 6:56 GMT

    Really sad to see what they are doing to M.Pushpakumara. Why is a talented guy treated like this? He is already 30 years of age. What a waste of talent. They keep selecting ordinary bowlers but keeping out M.Pushpakumara. Really sad to see this mess.

  • Nimrod on July 13, 2017, 6:54 GMT

    Better to have rangana herath as the test captain he should be able to handle situations better than chandimal

  • Nuwan on July 13, 2017, 6:28 GMT

    There is way to increase performance in the team if implemented lucrative payment among players for each win and pay cut if loose a game. Hope this will be the ideal scenario to increase team performance.

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