Angelo Mathews has become a part of Sri Lanka’s T20 team since the T20 he played against West Indies in March 2021. The one-time Sri Lankan captain made his T20 debut in the Lankan jersey after almost three years yesterday, in the first match of the series against Zimbabwe.
Chasing down a target of 144 in a thrilling match, Sri Lanka secured victory by 3 wickets in the last ball, with Mathews’ 38-ball 46 playing the biggest role. It was in such a return that Mathews got the platform to open his mouth. He said frankly, he did not get a chance in the Lankan T20 team in three years because of the ‘agenda’ of the former selectors of the board!
Last December, the Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC) announced a new five-member selection committee headed by Upul Tharanga. Former cricketers like Ajantha Mendis and Dilruan Perera are also on the committee appointed for a two-year term. Apart from praising this committee, Mathews brought the former committee to the table after the match yesterday.
“In the last two seasons in the Lankan Premier League (LPL), I did well with the bat and the ball, but unfortunately I was not selected for the T20 World Cups. I was not given an explanation as to why it was not taken. The thing is, when someone decides to implement a certain agenda, that happens in that case’ – said Mathews after the match yesterday.
There has been a big question mark over Mathews’ bowling over the past few years. Mathews played a big role with the ball in Sri Lanka’s great team in ODI and T20 between 2007 and 2014. He also bowled in the power play. But there are two explanations for Mathews’ declining bowling role over the years – one, a succession of injuries kept him away from bowling, and two, Mathews himself saw himself as a specialist batsman. Which interpretation is heard depends on the source from which the interpretation is coming.
Mathews bowled 2 overs against Zimbabwe yesterday, conceding 13 runs. Mathews said that there was a detailed discussion with the new selectors, ‘The communication path of the new selectors with me is clear. They wanted to know my future plans, told me about their plans. They said that I am in their plans for the T20 World Cup. Wanted to know whether I can bowl a few overs or not. I said, “Of course! I am ready to help the team in any way I can.”
Mathews said about his bowling, ‘I have been bowling in LPL as well. (In domestic cricket) saw me bowling in ODIs as well. If I can bowl a few overs, it helps balance the team, helps the captain decide whether he is an extra bowler or a batsman.’