Sri Lanka better off with Mathews in ODIs
by Rex Clementine
Over the years, we have seen the cricket team rebuilding after an extended period of poor run and when that happens a few seniors are given the cold shoulder. Although these tough decisions are taken with the best interest of the game in mind, there have been occasions that some selectors have settled old scores.
Rebuilding at times don’t go to plan. Sometimes they backfire and the very players whom you have dropped prove yourself wrong scoring heavily either in domestic cricket or in a different format of international cricket. At times these players are recalled but when that happens the selectors who had dropped them have moved on and a new set have taken over.
This time though it’s quite different as the same selectors who introduced the aggressive youth policy have taken a step back, either they are honest people who have realized their mistake or they are desperate given the dreadful scenario facing the ODI outfit.
Sri Lanka need to win three out of three games in New Zealand if they are to qualify automatically for the World Cup or else they will have to play the qualifiers in Zimbabwe in June.
Mathews is going to be a crucial cog in the wheel as Sri Lanka ensure that they keep their World Cup record intact having played in all editions of the tournament since the inaugural one in 1975. In Trivandrum early this year, Sri Lanka were shot out for 73 runs after India had posted 390 for five in their 50 overs. It was a massive 317 run defeat, the heaviest in the history of ODI cricket by any team.
Having seen that the selectors have got cold feet and were left with Hobson’s choice but to recall Mathews, who has scored nearly 6000 runs at an average of over 41.
There are many questions about the selectors’ choices. Carried away by their youth policy they played T20 players in the ODI format and today those players can’t even find a place in the T20 side. Bhanuka Rajapaksa is a case in point. Plus they experimented with too many all-rounders and still too many of them have persevered eventhough results have been pretty ordinary. It’s the same policy that England tried out for so long when they were pathetic in limited overs cricket two decades ago. Sadly, our selectors have borrowed a leaf out of England.
Mathews selection is certainly a step in the right direction but much more needs to be done moving forward. Kusal Janith Perera, who hasn’t played any international cricket since November 2021 is also back in the reckoning after shoulder surgery. He’ll initially feature only in T20s but soon should come into the ODI mix too as Sri Lanka try to qualify for the World Cup.