Take a batting lesson from Mathews and go big, says head coach

Wednesday, 20 January 2021 00:30 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Sri Lanka head coach Mickey Arthur chats with stand-in skipper Dinesh Chandimal and former captain Angelo Mathews during the first Test against England at Galle.

  •  Kusal Mendis dropped as Sri Lanka reduce Test squad by 5 to 17   

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

Sri Lanka’s head coach Mickey Arthur wants the young batsmen in the team to apply and play an innings similar to that of former captain Angelo Mathews in the second Moose Cup Daraz Test against England beginning at the Galle International Cricket Stadium on Friday.

With Sri Lanka facing a massive deficit of 286 after being shot out for 135 in the first innings, Mathews defied the England bowling for five hours and 44 minutes, to score a defiant 71 off 219 balls. Along with Lahiru Thirimanne, who scored a century, Mathews’ innings ensured Sri Lanka put up a better batting performance, scoring 359 in the second innings, and also helped them avoid an innings defeat.

“I am looking for a lot more of the same. Looking for batsmen, particularly in the first innings, to go big. We need somebody to get a big score. Once you get in you’ve got to capitalise, just like Joe Root did for England, which was the difference in the game. We need them to go on,” said Arthur, as he scrutinised Sri Lanka’s performance in the first Test which they lost by seven wickets.

“Angelo Mathews’ innings was just superb in these conditions, the way he applied himself, the tempo of his innings, his game plans. All our young batsmen just need to watch the way he went about his business to know how to bat on a turning wicket. Hopefully that’s lessons learnt. We want those batsmen to go big, we want hundreds. Lahiru Thirimanne got one for us in this Test. We got sixties out of KJP (Kusal Perera) and Angelo. We need them to go and get some big scores.”

While Sri Lanka’s top and middle order batsmen made some sort of contribution to the total, Kusal Mendis once again suffered another failure. Although he managed to get out of a dreaded run of four ducks in a row, he was dismissed for 15 in the second innings, and thus have forced the selectors hand in in resting him for the second Test.

“I’ll keep reaffirming that Kusal Mendis is a wonderful player, he will score a lot of runs in the future for Sri Lanka. But he’s been under pressure – as you usually are when you haven’t performed. We spoke long and hard about him playing in this Test match. We thought coming back into local familiar conditions might trigger it for him. International batsmen not scoring are always under the pump, it is how you come out of that is the key,” said Arthur.

Mendis is among five players the national selectors have decided to release from the 22-member squad ahead of the second Test, reducing it to 17 players. 

The other players released are Dimuth Karunaratne (due to injury), Minod Bhanuka, Lahiru Kumara, and Nuwan Pradeep, who were all due to return to Colombo from Galle last night.  

The released players will return to training at the High-Performance Centre in Colombo.

In the absence of Karunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal will continue to captain the team in the second Test. 

The good news for Sri Lanka is that fast bowler Suranga Lakmal has recovered from his hamstring injury and is available for selection.

Arthur said that in the absence of batting all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva (injured) they have been forced to try out new combinations to balance the team, and that is why they opted to play fast bowling all-rounder Dasun Shanaka and spin bowling all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga.

“We are trying to develop a team that can play in all conditions. We used Dasun fairly well in South Africa, very much as our fourth seamer and batting all-rounder if you like, and Wanindu as our spin bowling all-rounder. Dhananjaya de Silva when he comes back in the team, he sort of gives us the balance. We were just searching a little bit for that right balance. It is something we will have to look at,” explained Arthur.

“These are young guys, young men finding their way in Test cricket. They are very talented; they are showing a lot of promise. These guys we just need to give time. The young players we have identified we are putting a hell of a lot of work into them every day to get better and better, and these are the guys that are best in the system and guys that we can carry forward. But overnight they’re not gonna become that instant sensation.

“Wanindu is not going to be the bowler at the moment in Test cricket that he is in T20 or white ball cricket, simply because he is working at his game. He is still finding out how to bowl in Test cricket, he is still trying to realise the value of patience, the value of stringing spells together, the realisation of setting batsmen up. For sheer ability he is as good as I’ve seen from a leg spinner. He certainly reminds me of Shadab Khan (of Pakistan) when he came on the scene. We went through exactly the same process with Shadab, was around him having to understand the importance of putting spells together. It is a process for Wanindu. Natural talent he’s got in abundance, it’s just that we’ve got to work a little bit on his game plans and the mental side of playing Test cricket. That’s not going to happen overnight. These guys have got an abundance of talent and the only way they are going to get better is to keep playing them and keep playing them in pressure situations.”



Arthur believes Wanindu Hasaranga has got an abundance of natural talent but needs to work on the mental side of playing Test cricket.