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Angelo Mathews suffers injury setback as MRI scan reveal multiple leg injuries

Mathews has been advised three weeks rest and is facing a race against time to be fit for the series against South Africa in December.

Angelo Mathews Sri Lanka cricket
The 29-year-old’s injury troubles are much more serious than what was initially feared. 

Sri Lanka’s unfortunate tryst with injuries has taken a turn for the worse with an MRI scan revealing that skipper Angelo Mathews, who had been ruled out of the upcoming series against Zimbabwe, has suffered multiple leg injuries on the same leg thus putting into doubt his chances of recovering in time for the series against South Africa in December. 

Mathews had suffered a calf injury during the ODI series at home against World champions Australia but was hopeful of recovering in time for the tour to Zimbabwe which will feature two Tests against the host nation followed by an ODI tri-series that will see World T20 champions West Indies as the third side. However, it seems now that Mathews will have to wait longer before making his return to international cricket. 

"I had about one-and-a-half months to recover and I was preparing myself to be ready for the Zimbabwe tour," Mathews said. "Unfortunately there has been a setback. We did an MRI scan, which revealed that I had multiple injuries on the same leg. I had to pull out after the expert medical panel advised me and [told] SLC not to send me to Zimbabwe because it might jeopardise my chances of playing in South Africa.”

Mathews, who has suffered from a number of injuries throughout his career, not least of all his troublesome knee, expressed worry over his recurring injuries and is aiming to get down to the root cause of the problem and hopefully cut down the time lost on the sidelines as he gets set to enter the 30s. 

“We are planning to take a closer look at why this is happening. The doctors have advised rest, and the recovery can be earlier than that or more; we will have to play it by ear," he said. 

While the burden of captaining the side in all three formats of the game has certainly not helped Mathews’ cause, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) president Thilanga Sumathipala put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the previous regime saying that the players, including Mathews, had been badly managed.  

"We have not managed our players properly for the last three years," Sumathipala said. "We have good cricketers who have come in from Under-19, U-23 and club level, but once they reach the top level they can't sustain their physical condition because they have been badly managed.

"Mathews is a world-class allrounder and there is so much demand and so much of pressure on his body that it's not easy for a person like him to be without an injury unless he has a proper scientific approach. Mathews had the highest number of match days in the past 18 months. At this level, a player simply cannot go on. He has to pull out and take a genuine break for the body to recover. We don't have enough recovery time."

Sri Lanka have been desperately unlucky on the injury front, especially with their faster bowlers, and Mathews injury will come as a further dampener to the team's preparation for the Zimbabwe series. While the visitors, to be led by veteran spinner Ranagana Herath, is still expected to come out on top against Zimbabwe, they will have a much tougher fight on their hands against South Africa and will be hopeful that Mathews does recover within the three-week rest period that has been advised to him by the doctors. 

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