by Rex Clementine
Angelo Mathews faced his Ian Botham moment on Friday when the national selection panel and Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha met him and gave Hobson’s choice after Sri Lanka’s horrendous show in Asia Cup where they suffered defeats at the hands of Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The fate that Mathews suffered is similar to what Ian Botham, the golden boy of English cricket experienced. Botham collected a pair of specs in the Lord’s Test of the 1981 Ashes campaign as England conceded a lead series.
Botham stepped down soon after the Test. Matthew Engel wrote in the Wisden, ‘Botham resigned a minute before he was sacked’.
Mathews had captained the side for five years from 2012 onwards and had enjoyed a good run clean sweeping Australia 3-0 in 2016 and winning a first ever Test series in England in 2014. He had stepped down as captain in July last year after a series defeat to Zimbabwe. Six months later, the current selection committee approached him to take up the captaincy again and he did so reluctantly.
“The selection committee and Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha informed me to step down as ODI and T-20 captain. I was initially surprised, but it was immediately felt that I have been made the scapegoat in the entire saga of Sri Lanka’s dismal performances against Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the Asia Cup,” Mathews wrote in a letter addressed to Chief Executive Officer Ashley de Silva.
“I am willing to take part of the blame, but at the same time, feel betrayed and let down if the blame is solely put on me. As you know, all the decisions are taken through a mutual understanding with the selectors and Head Coach,” Mathews added.
Mathews went onto elaborate that he was requested to take up the captaincy after Sri Lanka had tried five different captains in six months unsuccessfully.
He adds that his family and friends had warned him to not to take up the responsibility and felt that SLC had sold him down the river.
“I had no intention of quitting or running away from the issues especially with the World Cup only a dozen games away,” he went onto state.
The 31-year-old added that he is ready to retire from ODIs and T-20 cricket if the selectors felt that he had no role to play in white ball cricket.
Test captain Dinesh Chandimal has been named as captain for the ODI series against England. He will also lead the Test team.