Media blitz in defence of Mathews shot down | Sunday Observer

Media blitz in defence of Mathews shot down

Chief selector Graeme Labrooy (right) drives a point into coach Chandika Hathurusinghe in the aftermath of drastic changes in the Sri Lanka team
Chief selector Graeme Labrooy (right) drives a point into coach Chandika Hathurusinghe in the aftermath of drastic changes in the Sri Lanka team

An unprecedented push by the Media for the reinstatement of Angelo Mathews in Sri Lanka’s limited-overs cricket squad proved a disaster as his ouster was vociferously defended by the selectors and coach with a high profile home series against England on the cards.

Mathews is probably the last of the household-names to come through a traditional schools system where the coaching book was foremost and was defended heavily by a cross section of the Media who produced statistics to make their case while questioning the motives behind his exit.

One reporter even asked why should the selectors and coach continue in their roles and make one player the sacrificial lamb after the Asia Cup humiliation.

But head selector Graeme Labrooy and beleaguered coach Chandika Hathurusinghe stood their ground at both ends and defended their stand which they said was in the best interest of the team and nothing personal against an individual.

“Angelo (Mathews) has been having a hamstring injury for some time. He slowed down in the game and his fitness was not up to the mark. He transfers pressure onto the rest of the batsmen. We had a chat with him and took a decision (to leave him out). He can go back and improve on his fitness and that’s the best way to manage a player”, said Labrooy. It was only last year that Sri Lanka Cricket begged Mathews to retake the captaincy role in view of the upcoming World Cup after he modestly quit in the aftermath of a home series defeat against Zimbabwe. But Mathews had also under-delivered with his bat overall which had been a far cry from his potential that made him worth more than what the selectors or coaches were able to see of him and it will take much more than just a score for him to regain their favour. “Running between the wickets has been a problem for Angelo. We have been monitoring this over a period of time and we have spoken to him about it. It is some kind of a world record where he has been involved in 64 run-outs”, said Hathurusinghe.

The 31-year old Mathews, a veteran of 203 ODI matches may not just be a victim of his own fitness but one of circumstances as well after the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena and Tillekaratne Dilshan had further left him isolated and exposed.

A report that Sports Minister Faiszer Musthapha had weighed in to prop Mathews is also unlikely to have any bearing with the selectors having enough reason to stick to their guns.

“I was called up to do a particular job at a time Sri Lanka needed someone to take the responsibility. I will continue to do so and be happy to step down if that be it and so far I have got no hint of that”, said Labrooy.

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