Angelo Mathews has resumed Sri Lanka’s limited-overs captaincy less than six months after he resigned from the position. Following a year in which Sri Lanka’s ODI captaincy has been in flux, it is hoped Mathews will take the team into the 2019 World Cup, and perhaps beyond.
Dinesh Chandimal retains the Test captaincy, meanwhile, and has also reclaimed a place in the ODI squad.
The reinstatement of Mathews as captain is partly a reflection of the paucity of leadership options but is also among a raft of changes proposed by new coach Chandika Hathurusingha. Hathurusingha had worked with Mathews between 2008 and 2010, first as coach of Sri Lanka A team, and later as the shadow coach of the national team. Back then, he had been among the coaches who earmarked Mathews for a long international career.
Mathews confirmed that Hathurusingha’s return to Sri Lanka as head coach helped draw him back to captaincy.
“When I stepped down I never thought of taking over the captaincy again,” Mathews said. “But as soon as we came back from India, the president had a discussion with me. Also Hathu aiya, and the selectors spoke to me and asked me to consider taking up the captaincy again. I took a few a few days to think about it, and because of a few reasons I decided to accept.
“I’ve also known Hathu aiya for a long time and I know how he operates. He’s not here just to survive. It’ll be very easy to work with him. When you have a coach like him that other countries are desperate to have, it’s a great thing. Cricket has given me a lot. If I turn my back in the hour of need I’ll not have done right by cricket.”
The major worry for Mathews now becomes remaining fit through Sri Lanka’s heavy schedule. Over the past eighteen months, he has missed 20 of Sri Lanka’s 39 ODIs thanks to a slew of serious leg injuries. Most recently, a hamstring strain ended his tour of India early.
Hathurusingha said team management and the selectors had taken Mathews’ injury situation into account, but nevertheless felt he was the best leadership option.
“My thought was that he’s the best person to lead the ODI team because he warrants a place on his own performance,” Hathurusingha said. “The only concern we had was his physical fitness and we have a plan in place to help him.”