Angelo can become best captain produced by Sri Lanka – Arjuna


by Rex Clementine

World Cup winning former captain Arjuna Ranatunga paid a glowing tribute to current skipper Angelo Mathews when he said that the latter could go onto become the best captain produced by Sri Lanka.

In an interview with The Island, Ranatunga said that winning a Test series against Australia is no mean task and that Mathews could go onto become the ‘greatest’.

Earmarked for leadership role at a very young age, Mathews rose through the ranks and succeeded Mahela Jayawardene in 2013, becoming Sri Lanka’s youngest Test captain at the age of 25.

While he was subject to intense criticism during Sri Lanka’s recent tour of England, Mathews has won back his admirers following Sri Lanka’s series win over world’s number one ranked team.

"Angelo was very positive from the first day of the series. That’s something I didn’t see during the recent England series. He can go onto become the best captain the country has produced," Ranatunga said.

The former captain had some intense rivalries with Australia and almost won Sri Lanka’s first Test against them when Allan Border’s side toured the island in 1992. After gaining a first innings lead of 291 runs at SSC, Sri Lanka’s collapsed in dramatic style in their second innings chasing a target of 181 and lost by 16 runs.

He had to wait for seven more years to beat Australia in a Test match as Sri Lanka conquered the ‘final frontier’ against Steve Waugh’s World Champions in 1999 at Asgiriya.

"The Australians by nature are tough and play aggressive cricket. Winning against any Australian side in Test cricket is no mean task. The team should be proud of themselves at this achievement," Ranatunga said.

Ranatunga was excited by the talent of young Kusal Mendis, who was Man of the Match in the first Test at Pallekele following his sensational 176.

"Mendis is looking very competent. He impressed me during the England tour. He didn’t get big runs in England, but the finesse was there. He should continue to work more on his technique with people like Roy Dias and Aravinda de Silva," Ranatunga added.

The second Test in Galle saw Rangana Herath complete a hat-trick. The left-arm spinner is the only current cricketer to have shared the same dressing room with Captain Cool.

"Rangana is a very loyal servant of Sri Lankan cricket. It’s good to see him leading the bowling lineup and being thoroughly consistent, as well as dependable."

Ranatunga, however, felt that Sri Lanka needed to sort out a few gray areas like their batting order.

"I still think that the selectors need to sort out the batting order. Dinesh Chandimal should bat up in the order," he said.

The former captain, who is in the Caribbean to celebrate Sir Gary Sobers’ 80th birthday wished luck for the team for the remainder of the series. "Congratulations to Angelo and the team and may you reap the rewards for the hard work you put in. You have shown the politicians and officials who placed you under an immense amount of pressure before the World T-20 that you’ll have served your country proud. I hope those unwanted people will stay away from winning moments and the photographs."

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