All-rounder Angelo Mathews restored back as captain of the Sri Lanka white balls teams – One-Day International and Twenty20 International said one of the main reasons why he accepted the captaincy again was because of new coach Chandika Hathurusingha.
“Hathu played a major part in my comeback to the Sri Lanka captaincy. I have worked with Hathu before he was my ‘A’ team coach about 10 years ago and he was also the shadow coach when I started playing for the national team. We have a good understanding,” said Mathews at a press conference held at SLC yesterday to announce the one-day captain and team.
“I know how Hathu operates he is not here to survive. It will be easier for me to work with him because we worked together before. That is one reason why I agreed. It’s very important for a team when you have a good strong coach like him. Where all the other countries are dying to have him you know obviously he is the best around,” he said.
Mathews quit the Sri Lanka captaincy across all three formats soon after his team had suffered a humiliating 3-2 loss to Zimbabwe in the five-match ODI series for the first time in their history in November last year.
The resignation of head coach Graham Ford after the Champions Trophy also had a great bearing on Mathews’ resigning as captain as he and Ford had built up a good captain-coach relationship.
“When I stepped down I never thought of taking over the captaincy again because when you leave something, you don’t look for it again,” said Mathews.
“But as soon as we came back from India the SLC president had a discussion with me and also Hathurusingha our new coach and selectors had an interaction and requested me to reconsider my decision. I took a few days to think about it. To be honest it wasn’t easy because I never expected it in the first place.
“I decided to take it for a few reasons. As the president said it was a national call and the other reason was that we need stability running into a World Cup in 18 months time. We had a few captains in the last four months due to so many reasons.
“Cricket has given me a lot and if I turned my back in the hour of need I’ll be feeling bad in my 10 years of cricket. I stepped down because I wanted the new captain to have enough time to build a team to the World Cup. But again I am down with the responsibility and I will fulfill that working on the same lines with Hathu and try and take on the challenge. I will do what is best for the country and for the team, some may like it some may not but I can’t help it,” he said.
In response Hathurusingha said, “It was a collective decision. My thought is that he is the best person to lead the team, he warrants his place on his own performance. The only concern we had was his physical fitness we have a plan in place to help him.”
Mathews who suffered a hamstring tear in the second T20I against India at Indore in December passed a fitness test on Monday to be fit for the Bangladesh tour and be appointed captain for the one-day teams. Mathews has a history of injuries and it has happened whenever he takes on the extra responsibility of bowling in the one-day formats. “We have appointed Angelo captain on a long term even after 2019 World Cup. He won’t be bowling in Bangladesh because he has just recovered from an injury. Whether he will bowl in the future has to be decided. As long as he stays fit and delivers we will go with him,” said chief selector Graham Labrooy.
Mathews explaining his continuous battle with injuries said, “We had plenty of discussions with the selectors with the new coach and medical team as well why it has happened and why it keeps happening. The medical experts say that especially from 2013 to 2016 where I never missed a game and I was the only player who played the most number of matches internationally in the world in all three formats was now taking its toll.
“The management plan has been discussed. As of now I have stopped bowling in Test matches. It will be handy if I can bowl a few overs in the ODIs and T20Is. But as of now we have to play it by ear. We’ll do everything possible to try and minimise it but it is out of our control unfortunately. I am doing the best I can and I am taking all the advice from experts but still if you get injured its bad luck.”
Mathews was confident that Sri Lanka can change their fortunes with a new coach in the dressing room.
“With new coach coming in the atmosphere in the dressing room will be changed. As soon as you give the players the freedom I am pretty sure they will come out with all their positives,” said Mathews. “We have the skills and we have the talent, we certainly can do it. It’s just the thought into the game, playing the situations well will obviously take us through. Today playing against any team is a challenge unlike early times when Bangladesh and Zimbabwe were considered to be minnows,” he said.
Coach Hathurusingha said that their aim is to win every game and added, “But our goal is to improve that is my main goal to keep improving. If we improve our game I believe that we have the talent to challenge every team.” Speaking of the hosts Bangladesh, Hathurusingha said, “They have been very strong in the last two years at home. We lost only one series. It will be a challenge for us because they know their conditions very well.”
Sri Lanka will compete with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the one-day tri-series that begins in Dhaka on January 15.