Does "Looking at all angles" include taking singles?


Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has been troubled by a hamstring injury since January last year.

by Mahinda Wijesinghe

In the year 2017 Sri Lanka had lost not less than 23 of the 29 ODIs. Thanks in the main, as most observant cricket fans opined, due to the short-term shenanigans of the selectors, or as still others reckoned was it due to the pressures imposed on the selectors? Be that as it may, Sri Lanka cricket seemed to be at its lowest abyss: almost at a point of no return.

Then the administrators, in a desperate move to right the sinking ship, brought in coach Chandika Hathurusinghe, who appeared to be at a loose end after his stint with Bangladesh. And it is rumoured, the former Sri Lankan Test player with a successful record as a coach had persuaded Angelo Mathews to take up the reins of captaincy. After all, Hathurusinghe is not only the head coach but a Selector as well. And (hopefully) must be wielding quite a clout in the ‘say’ at what goes on behind the scenes at Sri Lanka Cricket otherwise he may not have agreed to wear the crown of thorns AS head coach. Ask Graham Ford!

When the Sri Lankan team arrived in Dhaka, the newly re-appointed skipper Angelo Mathews made a statement, inter alia, that he meant business: "We want to strive to be the best…….winning is very important but when you are building a team for 2019 you have to look at all the angles….." All angles? Let’s read on.

Remember the 2019 World Cup is not too far away. Now the question arises, is Sri Lanka Cricket (which now includes Hathurusinghe) "looking at all angles?" In this regard it was most distressing to observe Mathews being given on-field treatment by the physio on the former’s recurring injuries to his leg during his partnership of 85 runs with Kusal Janith Perera. When a batsman of the caliber of Kusal Janith is blazing away but just as he was getting into top gear he finds his partner unable to take quick singles and quicken the scoring rate it puts a damper into the situation. It is most difficult for a batsman to come down from top gear to a lower gear. When the physio arrived on the field and was strapping Mathews’s leg, even at this distance, Perera’s face looked a picture of disappointment. After that it was a question of taking ‘safe’ singles. No question of taking the first run fast and being ready for the second. Mathews was mainly trotting the singles.

Perera eventually made a sterling knock of 80 runs in 83 balls (eight fours and two sixes) while Mathews’s knock of 42 runs (64 balls comprised merely one four and a six) was painstaking to say the least. Now this is a double-edged sword. This persistent injury to the captain not only prevented Perera from his usual style of play but also naturally affected the captain’s footwork and running between the wickets. Now when one takes into account the loss margin incurred was just a dozen runs, the singles that went into limbo could well have meant the difference between a win and a loss! That is not all, the later batsmen had a bigger burden to contend with.

So it proved. The incoming batsmen, Chandimal 34 runs ( 33 balls) and Thisara Perera’s brilliant cameo of 64 runs (37 balls – five fours and three sixes) nearly brought home the bacon but unfortunately the captain’s innings earlier on proved too much of a hurdle.

All is still not lost for Sri Lanka in this triangular tournament but when the eventual focus for Sri Lanka is to field a physically fit squad for the 2019 World Cup, let us all hope that better sense would prevail.

We have the players with the necessary skills and experience, let those who have the combined responsibilities of selecting the teams do their jobs without any interference.

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