MATHEWS captures Lion on Zim safari | Sunday Observer

MATHEWS captures Lion on Zim safari

It is said and accepted that you can’t keep a good man down. And this saying rings true where one of Sri Lanka’s most celebrated cricketers Angelo Mathews is concerned.

From the time he made his entry into the Sri Lankan team and staring as an extraordinary all-rounder Mathews has served the country as a true and genuine servant of the game.

Before going on to trumpet his praises, we would like to comment on the double century he chiseled out for the country against Zimbabwe in Harare in the first of two Test matches. Then he followed this up by knocking up another half century in the first innings of the second Test also at the same venue.

At the moment the national team is sadly lacking an all-rounder of Mathews’ class. When he won his spurs in the national team he was a captain’s dream to have in the side. He was all muscle and supple as a right hand batsman and had the ability to hit the ball hard along the turf or loft it over the boundary with good timing and with ease.

Standing well over six feet like a colossus he had all the strokes from the book and showcased them with consistent scores that helped prop the team’s batting. He bowled intelligent cutters that batsmen found hard to counter and as a fielder he was brilliant.

The dream of every player to lead the country came his way when the two greats Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara quit the game.

These two stalwarts who were aware of his abilities were quick and had no hesitation in forwarding his credentials to those who matter to be the country’s next captain. He proved a success as a captain. He had what Richie Benaud the most successful Australia captain said about captaincy. Benaud said to be a successful captain one has to have the all important 90 per cent luck and 10 per cent skill. Mathews had that in full as he led from the front and with great aplomb.

But being an all-rounder having to deliver in all three aspects of the game – batting, bowling and fielding – and having to concentrate on the game as captain in every moment, like in all all-rounders niggles and injuries had to happen and it did happen to stall this great man’s progress.

When Mathews was riding a crest of a wave of success, he had the misfortune of suffering an injury that stalled firstly his bowling and which also affected his batting and fielding. It was a dreaded thing to happen, but that is how it goes in the modern fast forward game.

Mathews if his performance with the bat and now that he started to bowl is an indication, then he seems to have overcome the trauma and is on the way to showing his magic as an indispensable all rounder which the game so badly requires.

Mathews with his tremendous experience will be a great asset to captain Dimuth Karunaratne who is still learning what captaincy is all about at top level which is no easy task with the game highly commercialized and with winning being everything.

And Mathews will only be too ready to help his teammate from the same school St. Joseph’s College, Darley Road if and when his advice is sought. Not only the captain, but all others in the team will do well to go to Mathews when they have any problem. He will be only too glad to help.

The country’s next big and important fling will be the T20 World Cup in Kangaroo land come October and Mathews will have an important role to play if Sri Lanka is to emulate its 2014 success in the same format. It is hoped that Mathews will not suffer another dreaded breakdown.

On the Zimbabwean safari, the only cause for worry was the poor form of that talented and stroke studded batsman and former Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal. It is a pity the swamp that Chandimal has fallen into.

But he can take heart from the fact that all great batsmen suffer a sudden slump with the batting gods of cricket being unkind to them.

But that should not worry Chandimal. He must not lose his self confidence, but be determined to come good keeping in mind that failures are the pillars of success.

The head coach and the batting coach should pay special attention on Chandimal talk to him and help him regain his all-important self confidence and then the pieces will fall right, because his technique and stroke play are good as any other top batsman in world cricket today.

It was pleasing to see one-drop batsman Kusal Mendis come good with an unbeaten century when most needed. Coach Mickey Arthur must be highly impressed with the rare batting attributes and qualities of this young batsman. He must remember that consistency is the hallmark of a great batsman. He is the future of Sri Lanka cricket.

Another young and promising batsman who is scoring heavily in domestic cricket and nudging the selectors is stylish right hander Angelo Perera of the Nondescripts Cricket Club.

The selectors have not given Perera enough games at top level for him to deliver and show his unlimited talent. He is given a game or two and then sent to the land of the forgotten.

With the Caribbean cricketers due soon and when the selectors sit to pick the teams to play against the visitors, they will do well to consider Perera’s credentials and give him a go against Kieron Pollard’s Windies. He deserves it.

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