Same old story

Published : 8:56 am  June 15, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Shehan Daniel 
On a day he could have been leading Sri Lanka in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy, Angelo Maathews was instead in Colombo reflecting on the mistakes that saw his team being eliminated from the tournament. 

Speaking to the media hours after the team returned to the island, Mathews said no single player was responsible for the team’s elimination and performance at the tournament. 

“We’re disappointed about the loss. We take full responsibility as a team,” the Captain said. 

He labelled the campaign as ‘fairly good’ despite the team’s early exit.  

“We had a fairly good campaign – yes, it was not the ideal for us as a team. I thought we started off pretty well in the first game but we lost our way in our batting, and the batting collapsed. But to come back and come back very strongly as we did against India, was a fantastic effort by the whole team. We saw a couple of youngesters make some big scores and take down the Indian attack which was not easy,” Mathews said. 

“We knew we had to win the final game to get into the semis, but unfortunately we (made) a few mistakes here and there. We didn’t field well, but we’re not a bad unit. Unfortunately, we missed a few chances, but that’s how the game goes. We (make) mistakes and we will (make) mistakes in the future but we’ll try and minimise all of that, learn and move forward from that.”

Mathews also said that he had not thought about his future as captain, saying that he had not had any discussions about it as yet.  
“I have not made any decisions about anything. I have not thought or discussed about it yet. I know the media and social media have made certain suggestions, and I don’t even know about some of those things.

“I have not discussed anything about it. I have not made any decisions, and I have not spoken to anyone about it,” Mathews insisted.  
He added that he was not fazed by the criticisms he faced about the decisions he makes while on the field. 

“I have no problems about what anyone says about my captaincy. I take responsibility for the decisions I make, which I do based on the conditions. Anyone can say anything once the match is over. The decisions I take on the field, during the game, can go either way and the responsibility falls on me. I’m not scared to take decisions, whether it goes right or wrong,” he said.

physical fitness
He also defended the physical fitness, or the lack thereof, of his players, saying that injuries could keep any player out regardless of how fit they were. Sri Lanka lost two players during the course of the tournament, Chamara Kapugedera and Kusal Perera, while Mathews came into the tournament after a long injury lay-off. 

“I think any player, no matter how fit they are, can get injured. There is no indication about when that (an injury) will happen. Sometimes it can be because of a higher workload, sometimes because of a lesser workload. There are different reasons (for a player to get injured). It’s not just our team, but other teams – Chris Woakes, Mohammed Amir – we see that no matter how you focus on fitness there are some instances where you can stop it from happening,” Mathews said. 

Coach Graham Ford also had an optimistic view of Sri Lanka’s performance at the Champions Trophy, saying that with experience this team would win more matches. 

“They certainly gave everything they could give in that game (against Pakistan). At one stage it looked like we had one and a half feet in the semi-final. It did hurt,” Ford said. “As far as positives, the South African game was very disappointing but if I look at the Indian game there were so many positives. 

If you look at the number of caps, in our team compared to the international caps in the Indian team, we’re vastly inexperienced compared to them yet we outplayed them completely. We were under pressure at times, especially when India were batting so well, yet our unit stuck well together and the bowlers did a really good job of damage control and making sure that totally didn’t get out of hand.” 
“I still feel that with inexperience we are not going to get those performances every day of the week, we’re going to have some disappointments but as time goes by – quite a few of them have played only 20 or less ODIs – when they get to 80 or 90, 100 ODIs, these guys are going to win us a lot of games. That’s really exciting, and that was against the team that everyone has been talking about being favourites to win the tournament. To see a performance like that everybody who follows Sri Lanka cricket has to be very positive,” Ford added. 

Ford said he saw positives even in the defeat to Pakistan, even though the performance left much to be desired, and that Sri Lanka had the most to take out of any of the teams that were eliminated after the first-round. 

“The game against Pakistan, unfortunately we didn’t play very well. We didn’t play our best cricket. But look at the attitude and the fight. South Africa lost their game and they just disappeared. 

We looked like we were out of that game when Pakistan were 76 for no loss, chasing a modest total and somehow our boys found a way to really fight back and get us into the game and into a winning position. 

The character that these guys show and continue to show is really exciting. The other teams came back from the Champions Trophy with far less positives, and far less to get excited about, than we have.”