Angelo Mathews made scapegoat for Sri Lanka’s failures: Arjuna Ranatunga
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Angelo Mathews made scapegoat for Sri Lanka’s failures: Arjuna Ranatunga

Angelo Mathews shouldn’t have been allowed to resign as Sri Lanka cricket team captain, former skipper Arjuna Ranatunga has said

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 28, 2017 12:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
India vs Sri Lanka,Angelo Mathews,Arjuna Ranatunga
Angelo Mathews’ resignation as captain has done little to swing the Sri Lanka cricket team’s fortunes.(AFP)

Sri Lanka cricket finds itself in desperate times and one of their urgent requirements is to find a leader within the camp — the one who can guide the national team through the horrible situation they are currently in.

The Sri Lankans have hit the nadir once again by losing all their matches so far against the rampant Indian cricket team, the latest being their defeat in the third ODI at Pallekele on Sunday night, which resulted in the visitors sealing the five-match affair 3-0 with two more games to go.

While the cricketers from the island nation have failed to find their feet and form against the dominant Indians, the Sri Lankan fans are running out of patience rapidly.

Their team bus was halted by about 50 fans after their abject surrender in the first ODI at Dambulla, and on Sunday, the crowd at the grass embankments threw plastic bottles on the field in frustration, resulting in play being halted for more than 30 minutes.

Certainly, the presence of men like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene would have provided some hope to the fans, but these two cricketers had retired long ago, and the fortunes of the Sri Lankan cricket team have been dabbling between several youngsters being tried out randomly and a game of musical chair taking place as far as captaincy is concerned.

READ | Angelo Mathews, Lasith Malinga’s lack of inspiration hurting Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka also copped criticism when Graham Ford — a long-time trusted coach — was shown the exit door unceremoniously. Ford was instrumental in Sri Lanka’s success in the past, but his exit only meant trouble for the team.

Nic Pothas, a relatively lesser known South African filling in as interim head coach, had already exposed Sri Lanka’s poor selection policies and lack of direction in the wake of the Test series whitewash to India and defeat in the first ODI.

On Sunday, Dinesh Chandimal — who was not even there in the original squad — played in the third ODI while Chamara Kapugedera captained the side. Chandimal suffered a fracture in his thumb during the game and will miss the remainder of the series.

Chandimal had replaced Upul Tharanga, who was banned for two matches due to slow over-rate in the second ODI. This was not the first time Tharanga was banned for the team’s slow over-rate — as recently as in June, he had suffered a similar punishment during the ICC Champions Trophy.

READ | Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Chandimal ruled out of remainder of India series with injury

Sri Lanka have had several captains — including veteran Rangana Herath in the Test series earlier — but none of their appointments have provided any respite to them.

Chandimal, who led Sri Lanka in the last two matches of the three-Test series, was severely censured for his unimaginative and uninspiring captaincy.

Mathews’ resignation plunged Sri Lanka further into the abyss as they may not have expected finding a successor to the captaincy role so early, especially when the team is failing to put an end to a prolonged rebuilding phase.

Mathews stepped down as Sri Lanka captain across all formats in July this year in the wake of Sri Lanka’s defeat in the five-match ODI series to Zimbabwe — another low point in their history.

However, if former captain Arjuna Ranatunga is to be believed, Mathews should not have been allowed to resign from captaincy.

READ | Upul Tharanga ban: Why it is bad news for Sri Lanka in ODI series vs India

“Mathews is the best captain I have seen after Ranjan Madugalle. When he said that he wanted to quit, SLC should have told him to hang in there without throwing the towel in. If I had any say, I would have told him that this is not the time to quit,” Ranatunga told Cricbuzz.

“When Sri Lanka whitewashed No 1 ranked Australia in the Test series last year, there were lot of people to take credit, but sadly when he lost he was made the scapegoat and all the blame was on him. Mathews was a very positive captain, but due to constant changes and lots of chopping and changing he started becoming negative because he lost the confidence,” the former captain added.

Mathews himself has struggled for fitness, missing a few critical games for Sri Lanka in the past. But Sri Lanka’s chairman of selectors and former cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya had sounded optimistic when he revealed the all-rounder was fit to bowl as well.

“It’s a big relief that Angelo will be able to bowl for us again. We have to manage him carefully and he is at the moment not ready to bowl full quota of 10 overs, but he will certainly be able to bowl 5-6 overs. That’s a big plus point for us as it helps us to balance the side,” Jayasuriya had said.

First Published: Aug 28, 2017 12:07 IST