Jan 20, 2017

'Mathews to lead Sri Lanka till 2019 WC'

Angelo Mathews, who is facing a lot of criticism following Sri Lanka's recent 0-3 Test series defeat in South Africa, would remain skipper until the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

Addressing a media conference, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) president Thilanga Sumathipala announced that the cricket board and Sanath Jayasuriya, the head of the national selection committee, have provided their backing to Mathews.

The SLC and the selectors had a post-series review on Wednesday with Mathews, coach Graham Ford and manager Ranjith Fernando soon after the Test series loss, to discuss their preparations for the T20I and ODI series against the Proteas, which start from January 20.

Denying the rumours that Mathews' captaincy was discussed in the emergency meeting, Sumathipala stated that he remained the most suitable candidate to lead Sri Lanka at the 2019 World Cup in England.

"Mathews too, must understand this responsibility and should work to rebuild the team," ESPNcricinfo quoted Sumathipala as saying. "We hope that the South African pitches for the T20I and ODI series will be more familiar to our players."

Meanwhile, Jayasuriya said that it was not surprising that Sri Lanka lost to Proteas on their fast pitches, adding that the bunch of young cricketers which were sent to South Africa need time to mould.

"As the Sri Lanka team is full of young blood, it is not a surprise that they faced a setback in South Africa. Even though we have given them the best squad, things did not turn out as we thought," he said.

"We wanted one of the top-four batsmen to play a long innings and score a hundred. At least two or three batsmen should have played a long innings. But it did not work."

The former left-handed batsman added that the blame should not go to Mathews for the loss. "This is not a time to blame and destroy Mathews' captaincy. This is a time when we have to strengthen Mathews," Jayasuriya said.

"As a former captain I know how these allegations can badly affect Mathews' morale, especially during a series. We have to support Mathews, correct our faults and face the T20I and ODI series' with confidence," he added.

The Sri Lankans will have an opportunity to bounce back in the shorter formats of the game when they take on the Proteas in three T20Is followed by five ODIs beginning January 20 at Centurion.