Will Angelo Mathews be able to shoulder dreams of an Isle?

Cricket is ingrained in the DNA of the subcontinent. Even if it is by default, one smoothly gets sucked into the contagious cricket fever. With Kumar Sangakkara throwing in the towel, the onus directly shifts to Angelo Mathews to shoulder the hopes of an entire nation. Ankit Banerjee reckons Mathews has got the perfect blend of ingredients to fill in the void, which may soon turn into a canyon of complexities if not addressed.

 

With the backs to the wall, the youngest ever captain of Sri Lanka played a knock of 110, which reminded you of a young Sachin Tendulkar playing against Pakistan at Chennai in 1999 with India down in the dumps. The pint-sized master played a blinder, smashing 136 with a back pain. India was on the brink of a historic win but with the genius’s downfall to a Saqlain Mushtaq doosra, brought a premature end to the Indian hopes. It is somewhat the same, that happened to Mathews in Colombo’s decider but yes, he did not carry an injury and not many expected Sri Lanka to win.

 

Mathews is an effective batter brimming with a lot of self-belief. Robust with the willow, the 28-year old can also roll his arms over and with decent control. Matthews has featured in 52 tests and scored 3801 runs at an average of riches, to be precise 52.06. Mind you he is not a top order batsman, comes in the middle order and usually ends up wagging with the tail trying to set up a score.

 

Mathews first captained Sri Lanka in Tests in March 2013 and that’s when they decide that he was their man for the future. Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan have bid goodbye to this format, and these are the toughest times for Mathews. The young side will look up to him for inspiration.

 

Mathews is super agile in the field, takes brilliant catches and affects run outs, which lifts the team morale during matches. It is now time for the ever-reliable statesman to have a lot of motivational talks to create a healthy dressing room environment and that will be very important for success. It’s responsibility will be on him to groom the Chandimals and the Karunaratnes and the Thirimannes. There is no aorta of doubt that talent is there in abundance.

 

This is a Sri Lankan team in transition and with Mathews helming affairs; all eyes will be etched on him to deliver. The critics would be getting all ready to scrutinize and that is where Mathews has to show character without getting flustered. There is a serious problem in the top order, a very fickle team management and a whole lot of other issues have to be addressed as soon as possible.

 

As a skipper, he already averages close to 69 in Tests and with his existing fitness problems of past, Mathews is bound to feel overburdened. What happens from here will test Mathews’ true character. How he goes on from here will mark his legacy.

 

(A cricket geek to the tee, Ankit Banerjee smokes and snorts it all day long. The romance with the sport incepted since the 1996 World Cup semi-final. He is a winner of the 2011 edition of the All-India college cricket quiz.)