‘Unfit’ Mathews reinstated in game of politics | Sunday Observer

‘Unfit’ Mathews reinstated in game of politics

In a puzzling development the new cricket selection committee headed by Ashantha de Mel has brought back Angelo Mathews who only two months ago was taken out of the team for what the previous selection committee headed by Graeme Labrooy and team coach Chandika Hathurusinha said was his drooping fitness levels.

Now questions have been raised whether the previous selectors and Hathurusinha were wrong in ousting Mathews from the team for reasons best known only to them, if not how was it that the 31-year old former captain was able to regain his fitness and please the new selectors in such a short period of time.

But some analysts are convinced that the usual cricket politics has played a part on both occasions, ousting of Mathews and recalling him into the squad for the three-match ODI series against New Zealand that starts on January 3 after the completion of the current Test series.

Sri Lankan cricket followers were also shocked to learn that the high-stakes high profile IPL in India where only the very best or crack shots are allowed to hunt and kill had secured a place for Mathews at next week’s player auctions with a big base value at a time he had no place in the limited overs team.

Mathews’ omission at the time caused an uproar with a large section of the Media voicing concerns that his ouster made him a kind of a “fall guy” with several others who were also answerable for the team’s decline moving away scot-free.

“All we can do is wait and see how all this will work out. For the moment we are witnessing cricket politics in action”, said one analyst who asked that he not be named as he is still part of the establishment.

Questions have also been raised on the status of Hathurusinha in the team with Sri Lanka Cricket enlisting two foreign experts, Australia’s Steve Rixon as fielding coach and England’s Jon Lewis as batting coach, literally sidelining Hathurusinha from some of his functions.

Most Sri Lankans now see Hathurusinha as a coach who has not lived up to their expectations along with Sri Lanka Cricket who saw him as the only solution to raise the fortunes of the team.

In contrast Malinga’s return to the team at the age of 35 is being seen as one of the biggest gambles taken by the selectors at a time he has lost most of his steam and sting and Sri Lanka hard pressed to field a competitive side at the World Cup which is just under six months away with very little options left.

Sri Lanka ODI squad: Lasith Malinga (Captain), Niroshan Dickwella (V.Captain), Angelo Mathews, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Janith Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Asela Gunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Lakshan Sandakan, Seekkuge Prasanna, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha, Nuwan Pradeep and Lahiru Kumara.