Mathews must clear the air on his self-imposed hibernation
BY JATILA KARAWITA
Former Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, 34, who shared a video in his instagram account of resuming training to spend months while being banished to the cricketing wilderness, has perplexed cricket fans and analysts alike for some time. It is no secret that the former Sri Lanka captain’s long career which commenced in 2008, had been blighted by injury throughout, but the truth of the matter is the dusky right-hander had done his duty by the country during both trying and bright times.
But the fact remains that at a time when the national team is reeling performancewise in all versions of the game, Mathews - who needs only another 10 caps to reach the 100-cap landmark in Tests - services had not been sought by the officials concerned. Mathews, a 218 ODI veteran has delivered the goods as a batsman for Sri Lanka from the moment he first broke into the side and though he has had a chequered career, his services to the national team cannot be devalued, though he may have his detractors and those who may lavish praise on him in equal measure.
The national team is set to feature in a sizeable number of series in the coming months against countries such as India, Australia, Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand, as per the next cycle of the ICC World Test Championship schedule. In the face of such a taxing Test programme, it goes without saying that Sri Lanka will be hard-pressed to replace a batsman of the caliber of the former skipper, if the latter is not favourably considered by selectors for any of the upcoming engagements.
It is also a mystery as to why Mathews, the country’s youngest ever Test captain when he was thrust into it back in 2013, has continued to keep mum during the recent past, even when selectors had overlooked him for recent international series rather than striving to air his views to the country. Is it due to players being gagged by the SLC from airing their views on such serious issues as they are bound by contracts? We really wonder what the true reasons would be.
If at all Mathews has a grudge against SLC or any member of the selection committee or those in the SLC Cricket Technical Committee, then it is beholden on him to make it public and clear the air with regard to his recent non-appearance for national duty. We believe if Mathews is determined to quit international cricket, then he deserves an opportunity to do so on his own terms, and it is therefore the responsibility of selectors to allow him to play a farewell series and end his career appropriately.
The Minister of Sports had also recently aired his views with regard to selectors having jettisoned some seniors in favour of unbridled enthusiasm of youth, ahead of the upcoming T20 World Cup in UAE, as well as the 2023 ICC World Cup. The Minister has also called for a right balance between experience and youth and we believe if this is the path the selectors intend to traverse, then they need to allow seniors such as Angelo Mathews, to go out on their own terms for the services they had rendered to this country.
It is reliably learnt that the former captain is now seriously considering quitting the sport having turned down the latest tour contract. Mathews, is learnt to be highly disillusioned at the treatment he and fellow senior players had received during the contracts’ standoff with SLC. The former skipper had also reportedly conveyed to the Board that he is unhappy with the environment in which he is expected to play. Hence, we urge Mathews to open up about his immediate plans for plying his trade in international cricket, rather than continuing to keep his trap shut, which could ruin his image and tarnish his reputation in the eyes of the cricketing public here.