Sri Lanka news

Mathews targets improved rankings

Andrew Fidel Fernando

February 14, 2013

Comments: 19 | Text size: A | A

Angelo Mathews with Dinesh Chandimal at a practise session, Colombo, July 27 2012
Sri Lanka's new leadership team: Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal © Associated Press
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Sri Lanka's new Test and ODI captain, Angelo Mathews, has said he aims to arrest the team's slide in the ICC rankings, and hoped to count his side among the best in the world in both formats in the next few years

Mathews succeeded Mahela Jayawardene, who stepped down after the tour of Australia, after spending almost two years as vice captain in all formats. Dinesh Chandimal was named his deputy in Tests and ODIs and captain of the Twenty20 team. Sri Lanka have been the top-ranked Twenty20 side in the world since their run to the World Twenty20 final in September, but slipped down the Test and ODI rankings after having been second on both tables in 2009. They have also failed to win a Test series away from home since 2008, and have won only four Tests since Muttiah Muralitharan retired in 2010.

"My main ambition now is to see the Sri Lankan cricket team in the top three in the next few years," Mathews said. "We've dropped down to sixth place in Tests and fifth in ODIs. It won't be easy, and it will take some time. Myself, Chandimal and the selectors will have to work closely to achieve that."

Mathews had been Sri Lanka's Twenty20 captain since the end of the World Twenty20 in 2012, but the new selection panel, headed by Sanath Jayasuriya, opted to give that position to Chandimal instead. Chandimal has not showed great promise in the Twenty20 format, but Jayasuriya said the selectors split the captaincy in order to help build a young leadership core, as well as to ease Mathews' burden.

"We thought that it would be too much for Angelo to give him the Twenty20 captaincy as well, as we wanted to allow him to concentrate on the Tests and ODIs," Jayasuriya said. "We thought the best person for the Twenty20 captaincy was Dinesh Chandimal, who has a long future in the game. He will also get some experience of captaining Sri Lanka in case Angelo gets injured."

Mathews' first assignment as captain will be the two-Test home series against Bangladesh, for which the selectors named a 20-man preliminary squad. The selectors sought to create a break from the past by selecting a young squad for their new captain, but Mathews was grateful for the presence of some senior players, most notably Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan, who have all captained Sri Lanka in the past. 



"I think you need both experience and youth in a team, because you can't have XI new players in a match. I think the selectors had that balance in mind when they chose the team, and they've done a good job of that." 



Of the older players the selectors omitted, Thilan Samaraweera and Prasanna Jayawardene were the most notable exclusions. Jayasuriya was non-committal on whether there was an avenue back into the side for these players, but focused instead on the opportunity to develop fresh talent. He also said the 20-man squad would be whittled down to 15 in the lead up to the first Test. 



"We need to start giving the youngsters an opportunity, and a series against Bangladesh is a good one to give one or two new players a place," he said. "Players like Kithuruwan Vithanage and Ashen Silva have been making runs in domestic cricket, and Jeevan Mendis has also scored well recently.



"We want to make sure these young cricketers to experience the atmosphere in the Sri Lankan team, and this is a good opportunity to allow that, because it's a home Test series. They can work with the Sri Lankan team until about 10 days prior to the Test, when we will name the 15-man squad.

Chandimal, 23, was impressive in Tests and ODIs, but failed to make himself a regular in either side throughout much of 2012. He acknowledged the added responsibility more leadership would bring, but suggested that his new roles would be a boon to his development, rather than a hindrance.

"There's pressure every time you play a match, but I think the captaincy is a boost for me personally, and a validation of my past performances," Chandimal said. "I've been a captain in Under-19 at school level as well. I didn't think I would be captain this early in my career, but that's a source of pride for me."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by PkZindabaad on (February 15, 2013, 10:18 GMT)

I think dropping sam werre was a mistake as he should be the one ideal for leading. mathews doesn't have enough quality to class as a international cricketer.breaking into top 3 is out of question but play for further sliding down the ranking as quality in this side is very low in my opinion.

Posted by Anushika on (February 15, 2013, 5:34 GMT)

They only gave the captaincy and some (Metro-ant) speak big before things happening. Give the guys a break and lets wait and see what they do. Don't think you are the best pundits of cricket. Be cool and support the guys. Who knows, things might become very good for SL..........

Posted by Htc-Android on (February 15, 2013, 5:06 GMT)

We need quality fast bowlers to break into the top 3. Except pakistan i cannot see any subcontinent team reaching the top 3.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2013, 5:03 GMT)

2013, being a non World T20 year, means that there will be very few T20 Internationals thus there won't actually be a need "to ease Mathews' burden."

Posted by   on (February 15, 2013, 3:38 GMT)

This is a fresh re-start for Sri Lanka. Matthews will be an excellent captain.

Posted by Mrkandy on (February 15, 2013, 3:10 GMT)

Talk less and work hard. Just have Bangladesh and Zimbabwe tests this year. So stop talking about rankings. trying winning all four tests. I.E. getting 20 wickets in a match. Get the bowling combination right. Whoever says what Sanga, Mahela & Dilshan trio can stick for few more years and dont see anything wrong. And about mickey mouse T20 I can careless about it. Anyone could do anything. Good Luck!

Posted by Ball99 on (February 15, 2013, 3:07 GMT)

To Metro-ant Mark Tailor also scored his 1st ODI century in latter part of this Captaincy (after losing the WC 96) give the these boys some time and they will also do well

Posted by   on (February 15, 2013, 3:02 GMT)

My words of advise to the new test Captain - Cancelling test series to play the IPL or ODI triseries involving India will not get Sri Lanka moving up the Test rankings. Also finding a few decent fast bowlers cant hurt. However all hope is not lost . Although the Proteas & Poms seem a world apart atm the difference between Australia & Pakistan, West Indies is Micheal Clarke If Pup has a hamstring problem here or a back niggle there that stops him from taking the field early in a test series the Aussies will be in for a warm time. India & Sri Lanka both have 'pace attacks' that lack both bark & bite. While West Indies continually choose to play 1/2 or a whole bowler short. the number 3 spot is there for the taking if Sri Lanka sort themselves out quickly

Posted by   on (February 15, 2013, 2:44 GMT)

@ Alex Olson seeing that with our top 3 averaging less than 15 & a bowling attack operating 1/2 a man short in the last Frank Worrell Trophy it still took runs from tailenders & Wade for Australia to beat us. We bowled England out for less than 50 & won the last Wisden Trophy in the Caribbean, We won 1st innings points twice on our last tour of India without Gayle & with a 3& a half man bowling attack while dropped catches stopped us from winning our last series vs Pakistan I would definitely take those odds Especially if WICB had not renewed Gibson's contract as coach.

Posted by OzWally on (February 14, 2013, 21:44 GMT)

Somewhere in the world Darren Sammy is cheering. No longer is he the "odd man out" among Test captains.

Posted by   on (February 14, 2013, 21:16 GMT)

I think somebody more experienced should of taken over the test captaincy Mathews could of been deputy of the test team. For one dayers I think Mathews was a good choice but Chandimal was a bad choice as deputy. I also think Chandimal was a bad choice as deputy of test team. Why is the one day and test skipper playing under a T20 skipper. Mathews is a great T20 player and definitely has the skills to lead a T20 side. Chandimal would of been a good choice to be the deputy of the T20 side.

Posted by KavindaSalgado on (February 14, 2013, 20:11 GMT)

Why Kithuruwan Vithanage is selected to the test squad ahead of more consistent and experienced deserving player like Angelo Perera ??? Look at their batting records... I hope the "school-tie-syndrome" coming from the top and prevailing in SL Cricket "Dynasty" has nothing to do with this obviously unfair selection! One time they even dropped Dilshan to include an opener/front-order "batsmen" with a batting average similar to a tail-ender (Av ~20) and persisted with him for many years... causing to lose a crucial match against India in 2002/03 WC Super-Six stage.! Angelo Perera (M 35 - Av 48.29 - Rns 2318 - 6x100s - 12x50s) Kithuruwan (M 20 - Av 39.18 - Rns 1293 - 4x100s - 5x50s)

Posted by   on (February 14, 2013, 18:36 GMT)

I will agree with the comments of Metro-ant regarding Mathews.Test captaincy should be given to Thilan Samaraweera or Prassanna Jayawardana as they are at the end of their carrier. Sri Lanka is due to play only four Test matches for the whole of this year against bottom ranked weak Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.They can appoint new young captain next year with his performances in these matches.

Posted by Raneesh238 on (February 14, 2013, 18:33 GMT)

A very good selection looking at the future. I think the new selection panel has done a good job by giving responsibility of the captaincies to 2 young but skilful players while seniors are around. Dilshan, Mahela & Sanga have at east couple of more years in the highest level and Angelo & Dinesh will have a great opportunity to get these seniors advice. Also it is good to see the change of few key positions in the supporting staff as great Murali & Vassy also getting abroad.

Posted by yorkslanka on (February 14, 2013, 18:06 GMT)

@srivathsav mitnala- that will be chandimal in the future.. @ Alex Olson - lets see if ur right ...I think that we will improve due to having selectors who know about the modern game now...

Posted by SL_Boy on (February 14, 2013, 17:54 GMT)

we have few years ... untill Sangas retirment

Posted by   on (February 14, 2013, 17:44 GMT)

There is as much chance of Sri lanka being anywhere near the top 3 in tests as there is of the West Indies winning a test series against any of the top five sides. They got thrashed 3-0 by what was only a decent Australian side, even lost the series at home as well.

Posted by Metro-ant on (February 14, 2013, 17:41 GMT)

Oh dear what has happened to Sri Lanka Cricket. We're giving the test captaincy to someone who has only scored one century his whole career and averages over 50 with the ball AND the same captain in charge of the one day team? This guy hasn't even scored a century in 90 ODIs. Kieron Pollard has scored 3 centuries in 73 ODIs and 2 against quality opposition. But just imagine if he was made captain! Potential is one thing, leadership is another.

Posted by   on (February 14, 2013, 16:55 GMT)

Sri lanka shud find a technically strong no.3 batsman who is capable of replacing Sanga after his retirement.

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