Despite Sri Lanka’s run of poor performances, with a 3-0 defeat in a five-match One-Day International series in England the latest reversal, Angelo Mathews has said that he had no intention of quitting as captain.
Sri Lanka lost the fifth and final ODI by 122 runs in Cardiff on Saturday (July 2) as England added to their 2-0 win in the preceding three-Test exchange.
England, sent into bat by Mathews in Cardiff, made 324 for 7 with Joe Root (93) and Jos Buttler (70) putting on 109 for the fifth wicket. Sri Lanka never looked like chasing down a target and were bowled out for 202 with 44 balls to spare. Dinesh Chandimal (53) and Danushka Gunathilaka (48) were the only Sri Lankan batsmen to make an impression, with David Willey (4-34) taking wickets at both ends of the innings.
Sri Lanka, whose only wins on the tour have come in the two ODIs in Ireland, have one last chance for some glory in the lone Twenty20 International in Southampton on Tuesday.
“There will be good times as well as bad,” philosophised Mathews, who became Test and ODI skipper in 2013 before taking on the T20I leadership just before the World Twenty20 in India earlier this year. “This is a tough time for me as a captain and for the whole unit but you can’t run away from it.
“I’m pretty sure if we keep improving day by day we can come out of this hole. For the past two months we’ve been having the same problems, either batting bowling or fielding has let us down in every single game. Especially in the one-dayers, we needed a perfect day to win against England. We didn’t have that perfect game and we paid the price.
“Congratulations to the English boys, they put us under a lot of pressure and didn’t give us the slightest of chances. They outplayed us in all three departments.”
Last year, Sri Lanka beat England by nine wickets at the 50-over World Cup in Wellington but since then, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have both retired, and with Lasith Malinga and Tillakaratne Dilshan not always around, the team has lost a lot of experience.
Mathews, asked if he had been surprised by England’s progress, replied, “A few years back they were in the same situation as us, a rebuilding phase and they have stuck to their plans, they’ve stuck to their players and now you can see the results. They’ve been playing some fantastic cricket and are very competitive outside England as well.””
The performance of England, who have appeared ruthless in recent times, has delighted Eoin Morgan, their limited-overs captain. “It was a very convincing performance,” he said. “There was no let-up at all really.”
Yet, it might have been different had not England, who were 82 for 6 chasing 287 to win in the ODI series opener at Trent Bridge on June 21, escaped with a tie. “It was brilliant to come out of that game without being wounded,” admitted Morgan. “I thought that was a great effort.”
Buttler’s quickfire 45-ball innings on Saturday saw him become the latest England batsman to make an impact against Sri Lanka. “He’s been outstanding … he’s fronted up every time he’s been asked,” said Morgan.
England bat long in ODIs with Adil Rashid, who has made ten first-class centuries, their last man in. “Knowing that Adil is at No. 11, a fantastic batsman as well, it gives you that licence to push your gamble button and try to kick on a bit earlier,” said Buttler after his heroics. “It doesn’t mean you’re trying to pass your responsibility, but it’s good to know that there are guys behind you who can pick up the baton as well.”