Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews speaks to the media while being watched by Chairman Selectors Sanath Jayasuriya (Pic by Chathura S. Kodikara)

When the Sri Lankan cricketers returned to Sri Lanka from England a few days ago, the captain of the national team Angelo Mathews expected to run into a storm of criticism.

However, that didn’t happen. Mathews said that he was overwhelmed by the warm reception he and his team received at the airport (at home). Mathews made these remarks at a press briefing held at SLC on Thursday to discuss the islanders’ performances during their tour of England.

Cricket fans will always forgive their national stars who fail in the bat and ball game, provided they remain unassuming. Mathews has now turned himself into a capable leader. Off the field, he is a darling with the media. Like when bowling his fast deliveries or wielding the willow, he has shown great calm when answering questions from reporters.

He admitted Sri Lanka being outplayed in all departments of the game by host England who went on to win both the Test and ODI series and the solitary T20 international that was played. “I am not satisfied with how we are playing in any of the departments of the game. We need improvement in all areas of cricket, whether it’s batting,
bowling or fielding,” affirmed Mathews.  This time around, the tour to England featured many fresh faces. Apart from the inexperienced squad that represented Sri Lanka, another factor that contributed to the dismal performance of the visitors was the ‘fitness’ related to five bowlers. Mathews admitted that even he did not bowl during times when he was not fully fit. The Sri Lanka skipper along with Chairman Selectors Sanath Jayasuriya speaking on injuries didn’t quite come up with a solid explanation as to why there were constant injuries to bowlers during the tour. Jayasuriya affirmed that the players were undergoing fitness training in the gymnasium under the watchful eyes of experts. However, Mathews said he believed that the injuries won’t be a major issue and they (the players) will be fit and ready for the future.

Jayasuriya said that despite the defeats, fans should consider the positives on the tour. He highlighted the fact that there were players who contributed as the tour progressed. “This is a period where we are rebuilding the side, so some decisions taken on this regard will come right, some will go wrong,” explained Jayasuriya.

Mathews termed the first couple of Tests as ‘disastrous’ and said that the side performed in bits and pieces. Speaking about the future prospects in the side, Jayasuriya said that Danushka Gunatilake will be tried out as a top order batsman, but said that Seekuge Prasanna, though coming good with the bat, will be looked upon to deliver with the ball. He said that he spotted Ramith Rambukwella as a batsman who can score fast in the T20 version of cricket.