Angelo Mathews rues shortage of bowling talent in Sri Lanka ahead of Kandy Test
Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews admitted that though the recent injury struggles faced by his side was rather unfortunate, there is a genuine lack of a big pool of bowlers to choose from when it came to meeting the demands of the playing schedule in international cricket.
With the team’s three frontline pacers sidelined due to injury, as many as five uncapped players have been named in the Sri Lankan squad for the first Test against Australia which begins at Kandy on Tuesday. Mathews admitted that he was a little worried at how things would turn out against Steven Smith’s men but is hopeful of the best.
"It has been a very frustrating few months. Not only one bowler, we’ve lost so many,” Mathews said, referring to the injuries to his three main bowlers – Dhammika Prasad (shoulder), Dushmantha Chameera (back stress fracture) and leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay (finger). To make matters worse for Matthews, fast bowler Shaminda Eranga is also ineligible for selection after being banned for illegal action.
"Vandersay is one of our key bowlers in the spin department. Dhammika Prasad and Dushmantha Chameera are two of our key seam bowlers so it’s very frustrating to see them going down. We need to try and look for more new players and get them ready and fit,” he said.
Mathews also expressed his worry at the general lack of talented bowlers coming through the domestic setup for Sri Lanka which he feels is putting extra workload on the shoulders of the bowlers in the national side.
"We can’t always keep saying the bowlers are injured. We haven’t got that many bowlers. We need to try and find them if we don’t have them. Unfortunately, all of our top bowlers are playing all three formats (of the international game) except for (T20 specialist) Lasith Malinga,” Mathews said.
"It’s very hard to divide those players when it comes to Tests, one-dayers, and Twenty20s. We haven’t got a wide range of choices to make and pick from. The bowlers who are fit – they’ve got no choice but to play all three formats,” he said.
Mathews ready for Starc challenge & sees no problem with Muralitharan’s role for Australia
The retirement of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene has obviously added more responsibility on Mathews’ shoulders and with the recent injury troubles, the Sri Lankan skipper knows that he will be targetted even more – something Australian pacer Mitchell Starc has already reminded him of.
“As a senior player in the team and the captain, they will obviously target me," Mathews said today when asked about Starc’s recent claim that the Australians had him in their sights. “When you become a senior you get targeted a lot more. It is going to be a good challenge – we all know he (Starc) is one of the quickest bowlers in the world."
The skipper also denied that he had any sort of issue with Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan’s decision to help out the Australian team as a bowling consultant with his vast knowledge of the Sri Lankan pitches.
"I think it’s not an issue, anyone is allowed to do any job," said Mathews. "The Aussies have taken him to get as much information as possible, and no one can stop that. They (former greats) have played the game and if they want to pursue coaching and consultancy roles, I don’t see an issue. We have to appreciate what he did as a cricketer.”
"The Australians obviously saw value in his knowledge of Sri Lankan conditions."