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Angelo Mathews has become Sri Lanka’s most dependable batsman after taking Test captaincy

Captaincy has brought the best out of Angelo Mathews © AFP
Captaincy has brought the best out of Angelo Mathews © AFP

Angelo Mathews took over as Sri Lanka’s Test captaincy in 2013 and in 10 Tests since then, he averages 79.61. The Sri Lankan skipper is calm and has a very good temperament to take the Sri Lankan team forward. So far, his performances have been encouraging. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about Mathews’ test as captain of Sri Lanka.

Some say captaincy is a burden! Pushing the responsibility on one of your stars can burden him to an extent that he can’t focus on the intricacies of his own trade. Ricky Ponting admitted in his book At Close of Play, that towards the end of captaincy, his focus was divided between his teammates and his own game. Coming from the most successful captain the world has seen, it certainly describes the pressure on a skipper of an international side. Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka’s Test and One-Day International (ODI) captain has taken to the role well so far and the responsibility has only made him a better player.

Sri Lanka cricket has seen some phenomenal success in the last year. Though their biggest moment, i.e. the ICC World T20 2014 victory, came under a different captain, Mathews has led the side admirably. Under his leadership, they have won the Asia Cup and the Test series in England. Along the way, Mathews has inspired confidence, with his calm demeanour on the field. Even when Lasith Malinga and Dinesh Chandimal led Sri Lanka in the World T20, Mathews seemed to be the senior leader, who led his side with some inspiring performances.

But, coming to Test cricket, Mathews contributions as captain have been unparalled. His batting has touched a new level and he has run into the form of his life in the longest version. Since his debut, he was touted as the next big thing in Sri Lankan cricket — the man who was to take the responsibility after the triumvirate of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan. Mathews has taken to captaincy very well and that reflects in his stats in Test cricket. Consider this, his recent scores leading up to the 89 against South Africa in the first Test are as follows: 91, 157 not out, 42, 91, 31, 86, 5, 43 not out, 102, 18, 26 and 160.

But, one must have a look at his stats before he became a captain and after. Here are his numbers in Test cricket before he was appointed Sri Lanka’s Test captain:

M

R

Ave

100s

50s

HS

31

1668

39.71

1

11

105 *

Here are his numbers in Tests as captain of Sri Lanka:

M

R

Ave

100s

50s

HS

10

1035

79.61

3

4

160

As captain of Sri Lanka, he averages 79.61 in Test cricket, which shows how well he has fit into the role. Before he was appointed captain, he had scored only one ton, but now he has three to his credit. The 160-run knock at Headingley in the second Test against England is a true example of his maturity as a batsman. And now, with his teammates failing to assert themselves against South Africa, he stood out with an innings of 89.

This fantastic run of form has seen his Test average go up by several notches. It is a very important development for Sri Lanka as they are in a delicate phase of transition. With Mahela Jayawardene retiring from Test cricket after the home season, they have found an able successor in Mathews. Last year, Dilshan retired from Test cricket and one doesn’t know for how long Kumar Sangakkara would continue post the 2015 World Cup. Mathews would be really tested once he loses the whole crop of seniors. Ponting after all found himself in that tough situation when all the big names had left the Australian dressing room.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)

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