By Shehan Thomas
“…He's the king, and we all look up to him.” This was a statement made by Angelo Mathews on Kumar Sangakkara, who provided talented one-drop bat Kusal Mendis with some words of wisdom days before he went on to showcase a batting master class against the Indians.
However, embedded in this statement says far more about Angelo Mathews than Kumar Sangakkara or Kusal Mendis; and that is his humility as a captain.
Humility is a major part of leadership and a humble leader is secure enough to recognize he’s not a ‘know it all’ and is open to seek the input of others.
Harsha Bhogle confirmed this when he tweeted moments after Sri Lanka’s historic run chase with these choice words – “And this is the reason Angelo Mathews is essential to anything Sri Lanka does.”
In his first ODI since August last year, Mathews batted with purpose and a sense of security in his controlled innings of 52* guiding his young team to a memorable win.
The phrase “Cometh the hour, cometh the man” resonates well with the career of Mathews, who has a knack of stepping up to the plate whenever the team needs it most. Ice-cool Mathews (and when I say Ice-cool, I mean the kind of Iceberg that sunk the Titanic) has an incredible resolve to remain calm under-pressure which makes him one of the best finishers in world cricket.
One such example of his security as a player and captain came on the tour of England in 2014. In the second test at Leeds, batting first on a seamer-friendly track, Sri Lanka scored 257. In reply, England scored 365. Batting in the second innings, Sri Lanka were 7 down for 277 with a slim lead of 169 and Mathews partnered with Rangana Herath to produce one of the finest stonewalling innings which from being a match saving one eventually became a match winning one.
Mathews and Herath added 149 runs for the 8th wicket, and 95 of those runs came from the captain’s willow. Matthews finally got out at 160 giving England a target of 350, which Sri Lanka successfully defended. This was incidentally Sri Lanka’s first test series win in England.
Ironically, what was a gloomy afternoon in Leeds ended up being one of the brightest days in Sri Lanka cricket, and for that we thank Angelo Mathews.
‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same’. Rudyard Kipling‘s words are boldly displayed in the All England Clubhouse, there to inspire players as they wend their way from the dressing rooms down to Centre Court at Wimbledon.
I believe Mathews is a man who has met with these two imposters and treated them just the same.In doing so, proved he is the leader Sri Lanka cricket needs moving forward for many more years…
Sheahan is a guest writer and the views expressed in the article are his personal