New Zealand in Sri Lanka 2013-14 November 8, 2013

'Win series first, blood youth later' - Mathews


Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said his team would aim to secure the three-match ODI series against a depleted New Zealand before entertaining the prospect of blooding young players, despite his team's continuing quest for regeneration.

One of the senior batsmen had been rested for each match of the most recent Twenty20 series against South Africa, in order to free a space up for a young player, but Mathews quelled notions a similar strategy would be employed against New Zealand. Uncapped middle-order batsman Ashan Priyanjan and developing medium-pace bowler Suranga Lakmal have both been named in Sri Lanka's squad for the first two ODIs.

"The youngsters are good fighters, and they may have a chance, but the main thing is that we win this thee match series. The current squad of 16 has only been selected for the first two matches to in Hambantota. If we win the series, then of course we can think about giving an opportunity to the youngsters."

The series is Sri Lanka's first' top-level assignment since South Africa departed in early August, but Mathews was confident his side would not show signs of rust, given their industry during the international hiatus. Sri Lanka's top players took part in a four-day first-class triangular series in October, and also had two practice matches against a Sri Lanka A team ahead of New Zealand's arrival.

The long gap in international cricket had been brought about by postponements to home Tests against South Africa and an away tour to Zimbabwe.

"It's unfortunate to miss the Zimbabwe series but we had some good matches here and it was a good two months to refresh for us. We had a lot of strength training, in addition to preparing specifically for this tour, so I think we're in good shape."

Mathews expressed disappointment at the prospect of playing a New Zealand team without their of their best batsmen, one of whom captains the team, but insisted that there would be no dip in intensity from his side. Earlier this week Sri Lanka chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya had also voiced his dismay at New Zealand's choice to withdraw Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor from the series, before Kane Williamson was also injured.

"We aren't just playing against individual players, we're playing against the New Zealand team, so we're not going to be complacent no matter what the opposition is doing," Mathews said. "This is a very important series for us, partly because it gives us a chance to tune up ahead of the Pakistan tour as well. We're disappointed that a few of their best players aren't here, but as they proved when they beat us in a nailbiter in Cardiff this year, they're still a very good team and we can't take them lightly."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nilantha on November 10, 2013, 16:20 GMT

    @first slip- Mathews is doing a tough job trying to captain a blend of youth and three former captains in the team. He must be finding it difficult to dothings his way. He played a sensible captains knock today and is a handy bowler too. PLease remember that there is a HUGE gulf between local cricket in SL and top level international cricket. scoring runs against our own players doesnt mean someopne can score at the top level.. if you are from SL, give the guy a fair chance and support him as he IS our captain.

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2013, 13:19 GMT

    It's clear Sri Lanka has no plan. Let's keep on trying the same thing till the next world cup and except different results. How conservative does a side have to be? I mean they're playing at home against a weakened opposition.

  • Lokesh on November 10, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    Really disappointing from SL cricket board. Jayawardene avg is 33, age 36+, still persisting in the team. Its okay with Sanga and Dili because they playing well. If SL want to play all the 3 seniors, they should split like in batting order 1, 4, 7. These three SL players are blocking the youngsters place. Here what happening to SL is if seniors batting in the top order gets fail, the youngsters will start thinking oh hang on, we can't score. Common SL, if you don't blood youngsters now, it will be very tough for you for the upcoming WC.

  • Dik on November 10, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    I hope NZ fights back like they always do and win it 2-1.

  • marino on November 10, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    Angelo is right... Win first - before bringing young once in.... If we lose the series - then it will hit hard on the team's confidence.... So always win first before playing so called youngsters..... Sri Lanka's policy in playing youngsters along side 3 extablished players in the way forward - infact I did like the way we did against South Africa - where they rotate senior players - but no-point playing just the youngsters if we are not fully sure they could win the series.... - "Come on you Lions..!"

  • Hajananth on November 10, 2013, 3:39 GMT

    can't spoil the careers of the veterans for these so called young talents, careers of samaraweere and vaas ended up due to this so called policy, after all none of the youngsters stand up and perform, so let the players being selected solely based on their performance..

  • Android on November 10, 2013, 2:39 GMT

    This is the ideal time to give young talents a go.

  • Kasif on November 10, 2013, 1:13 GMT

    Mathews and SLC should be commended for taking a sensible approach. The A, B, U-19, and regional teams are there for player development. When it's top-flight international cricket and the match being played isn't a dead rubber, the best available players - young or old - ought to be playing.

    No young Sri Lankan cricketer beyond the ones already in the team could possibly be considered more deserving of a spot than Sangakkara, Dilshan, or Jayawardene. Replacing one or more of them in any match to "blood youth" would be foolhardy and an injustice, especially as Sangakkara and Dilshan are playing the best cricket of their lives, and Jayawardene is just now back in form. They've earned - and keep earning - their few matches.

    Sri Lanka without those three and Herath have very little experience and are probably about on par with Bangladesh. You might think the Sri Lankan team's situation is bad now, but it could be a lot worse. Best preserve the balance and influence the seniors provide.

  • daya on November 9, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    oh. i am really dissapointed about our team. if they are not going to use these type of series to blood youth, when & how are they going to do that? really shame......

  • Dileep on November 9, 2013, 14:10 GMT

    To first-slip:

    Angelo Matthews can play every shot in the book but more than that he has temperament and technique. That's why comes up with the goods when Sri Lanka are in a tight spot or have lost early wickets. Other guys might play a few flashy shots but get out cheaply when it really matters. He could get into this SL team purely as a specialist batsman but in ODIs his intelligence as a bowler makes him a genuine all rounder - Econ rate of 4.5 in modern ODI cricket is exceptional. Probably the best Econ rate of any current SL bowler.

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