Angelo Mathews will "absolutely" be bowling through the course of the Lanka Premier League, even if Andre Russell - the tournament's star player and Mathews' Colombo Kings teammate - will take it easy with the ball initially.
Kings will play in the tournament opener against Kandy Tuskers on Thursday, and the team's two high-profile seam-bowling allrounders appear key to the franchise's fortunes, on first glance. Mathews had bowled during the West Indies tour of Sri Lanka in February and March but in the past few years has closely monitored his bowling workload as he faced repeated, lengthy injury layoffs.
"We couldn't play for eight months, but I worked hard to get to a certain standard fitness-wise," Mathews said a day out from the first LPL match. "We also had a ten-day camp in Kandy with the national squad, and I bowled little by little there. I'm hoping to bowl in ODIs and T20s in future so that I can contribute to the team. I'll be bowling in the LPL as well."
Russell, however, will have to be assessed before it is ascertained whether he will bowl, Mathews said. Russell had suffered a hamstring injury in mid-October, during the IPL, and though he returned to play a match on November 1, he had not bowled in that game.
"He has finished his quarantine and he trained with us yesterday," Mathews said. "We have another training today, so we will see how he is going before he decides whether he will bowl in the first match. But hopefully he will bowl at some point in the tournament."
LPL teams face a challenging schedule over the next three weeks, with two matches slated for most days, while teams will frequently be required to play on back-to-back days. Each team will play eight league games before the tournament moves into the knockouts - two semi-finals and a final are scheduled.
"Although T20 is only 40 overs, it's the fastest game in cricket, and you have to push yourself physically, so it will be difficult," Mathews said. "But every team has double-headers, but we can't make that an excuse. The Sri Lanka team also has a South Africa tour next month, so they couldn't extend this tournament. We just have to be grateful that we are getting on the field at all after eight months."
Mathews also thanked the tournament organisers and medical personnel whose work has allowed the LPL to begin in the midst of a global pandemic. Every team has a doctor assigned, and all those working in the hotels and around the ground are required to wear personal protective equipment.
"I think we should thank the Sri Lankan government, ministers, health authorities, SLC and the medical staff who have done an amazing job to get us on the field and get this tournament up and running with all these challenges. This is what we love doing, and even in the middle of Covid, we're able to play. The [military] forces are doing a great job as well.
"We just have to be careful because we're in a bubble. There's lots of attention to detail and testing is being done every three to five days." -cricinfo.com