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We want Mathews to lead the side beyond 2019 – Labrooy

Posted on 09 January 2018 by admin

 

January 9, 2018.
 

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by Rex Clementine

Less than six months after he graciously quit as Sri Lanka’s captain across all forms of the game, Angelo Mathews was reappointed as the team’s ODI and T-20 captain on Tuesday and there was overwhelming support for the 30-year-old.

Since Mathews stepped down, Sri Lanka have had seven different captains in the last five months. SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala elaborated that the Executive Committee unanimously backed the decision to hand the reins back to Mathews while Chairman of Selectors Graeme Labrooy wished that the all-rounder leads the team beyond the 2019 World Cup.

"When I stepped down, I thought that I will never take it again. SLC President, Head Coach and the selectors wanted me to reconsider my decision. I thought about it and there are few reasons for me to take it again. We need to have stability leading up to the 2019 World Cup which is less than 18 months away. This is an hour of need and if I don’t take it up now, I will feel bad in a few months time," Mathews told journalists.

The all-rounder said that his mentor Hathurusingha played a major role in convincing him to take up the captaincy again.

"I have known Hathu for a long time. I know how he operates. He is not here to survive. It is very easy to work with him as he has goals. He played a major part in me making this decision to take up the captaincy again. He is going to be an important part run up to the World Cup. The other countries are dying to take him as he is the best in the business. We have worked together with the ‘A’ team and then with the senior team as well," remarked Mathews.

When Mathews quit as captain after the series defeat to Zimbabwe, it surprised many. However, since he relinquished duties, Sri Lanka’s fortunes in ODI cricket hit rock bottom.

"When I stood down as captain, I did it hoping it will give the new captain a fair amount of time to prepare for the World Cup. All the captains we have had tried their best," Mathews explained. During his previous stint as captain, Mathews resisted pressure from board officials to compromise on selections and reminded that he will do it his way. "I will work for the interest of the team. Some may like it, some may not like it," he said.

Labrooy confirmed that Mathews will be Sri Lanka’s long term captain, having tried out several stop gap leaders. "He is going to be our long term captain. Ideally, we want him beyond 2019," Labrooy said before remarking that Mathews will only play as a specialist batsman during the Bangladesh series.

Meanwhile, Test captain Dinesh Chandimal has been recalled to the ODI side after being overlooked for the series against India. Kusal Mendis, another player dropped for the Indian tour also finds himself back in the side.

"We had a plan when we left Mendis out. The purpose was for him to get back to domestic cricket and get some runs. He has scored some big hundreds. The new captain and coach supported his inclusion a lot," Labrooy went onto say.

However, there’s no place for another bright young prospect Sadeera Samarawickrama, who had a tough tour of India.

Rookie fast bowler Shehan Madushanka has also been named in the squad.

"The coach has said that you can’t teach someone to bowl fast. It’s a gift bowling fast. Looking at long term, we are looking at someone who has got genuine pace. The average speed he clocks is 136 kmph and he has the ability to go beyond 140 plus kmph.

Sri Lanka ODI Squad: Angelo Mathews (Captain), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Asela Gunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Shehan Madushanka, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Wanindu Hasaranga.

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