Angelo Mathews has said that he feels “betrayed and let down” after he was replaced as Sri Lanka’s ODI captain by Dinesh Chandimal. In an emotional letter after learning of his sacking, Mathews also said that he would consider retiring from the ODI and T20 formats as he would not want to be a “burden to the team.” Mathews had come under heavy criticism for his leadership at the Asia Cup, where Sri Lanka lost to Afghanistan and Bangladesh and exited in the group stages itself.
“I’m willing to take part of the blame but at the same time, feel betrayed and let down if the blame is solely put on me,” Mathews wrote. “As you know all decisions are taken through the mutual understanding with Selectors and the Head Coach. And though I do not agree with the reasoning that the losses should be carried single-handedly to the Captaincy, I however eagerly and wholeheartedly respect the request of the selection committee and the head coach asking me to step down and do so with immediate effect.
“I wish to put it on record that though Sri Lanka had suffered these heavy defeats in the Asia Cup, which is shocking to say the least, especially in the backdrop where we had a reasonable series against South Africa, I had no intention of quitting and running away from the issues at hand especially owing to the World Cup being a dozen games away.”
The appointment of Chandimal continues Sri Lanka cricket’s rotation door of appointing captains, something that has been a problem over the last 18 months. In this time period, Sri Lanka have been led by Upul Tharanga, Lasith Malinga, Chamara Kapugedara and Thisara Perera in the limited-overs formats.
Mathews was Sri Lanka’s ODI captain from 2013 to the middle of 2017, but had quit the post last year after a series defeat to Zimbabwe at home.
“During this tenure, under my captaincy, series wins were recorded against England, we whitewashed Australia 3-0 and winning the Asia Cup in 2014 were some memorable occasions,” he added. “However, in the team’s best interest having felt that the time had come for new leadership I voluntarily resigned as Captain from all formats of the game in July 2017.
“Thereafter, pursuant to Sri Lanka suffering heavy defeats in all formats and having several appointed Captains, namely Upul Tharanga, Thisara Perera, Chamara Kapugedara, Lasith Malinga and Dinesh Chandimal during the tenure between July 2017 and December 2017 in the ODI and T20 formats, Mr Chandika Hathurusingha immediately having been appointed as Head coach met with me in person, requested me to reconsider taking up the Captaincy until the World Cup in 2019.
“Though myself, my family and close friends discouraged me in taking up the mantle, being confident in Hathurusinghe and his plans to elevate the performances of the Sri Lankan team and in the best interest of my country I agreed to do so until the World Cup.”
His stepping down made no difference as the team continued to fare poorly and Mathews had to be brought back as captain after Chandika Hathurusingha became the team’s coach.
“I also believe that if the selectors and coach are of the view that I am unfit to play ODI and T20 cricket and thus not entitled for my place in the team, I would also consider retiring from the ODI and T20 formats as I never want to be a burden to the team,” Mathews wrote.
Sri Lanka have lost 30 out of 47 ODI matches they have played since 2017. The board will hope the appointment of Chandimal as captain leads to a change in fortunes.