Angelo Mathews – By Duncan Jayawardena
(Former SriLanka Basketball Captain)
As a fellow sportsman, I feel really sad for what all of us so called sportsmen of SriLanka especially the cricketers collectively rejected you from the game you loved and cherished so much, in your prime. They talked about fitness. bad leadership, may be disloyalty and many other adverse traits which were counted against you. In my honest opinion I know that you do not belong to any of those so called grimy categories which you have been accused of. You are a real sportsman who is very loyal to the game , the Board of Cricket and Srilanka as a whole.
Fortunately for our great cricketing heroes, Arjuna Ranatunge, Kumar Sangakkara , not forgetting Duleep Mendis had their loyal and dedicated teammates rallying around them to support them to the utmost. They too had their shares of problems with the Board, the political powers and officials of other nations time and again . But their teammates rallied around the skipper, giving due respect and put their hearts and souls to achieve their desired goal, which is to bring victory for the cricket loving peoples of Srilanaka and to bring glory to the motherland . Cricket is a team game where one individual’s strengths or weaknesses would not bring victory or defeat to a team.
The Srilankan Cricket Board, the coaches, the selectors , the managers and the cricket fans must first understand this very clearly. Mr Haturusinghe was quick to say you were dropped from the team due fitness problems . Is that a thing to say ? Mr Haturu your point is not valid nor accepted in the arena of sports at all especially when it comes from the coach who accompanied the team . Is it not your responsibility to see that the team is adequately trained and all players have met their stipulated standards of fitness before the team leaves the shores for an international tournament. ? If the team is neither physically fit nor properly trained , then why did’nt you say so before you participated in the tournament, and stayed back refusing to be the coach of an unfit and untrained team ? You have tarnished the reputation and the good name of a great cricketer much loved by the cricketers and cricket fans of Srilanka by condemning him, to cover your own sins . It is not a done thing Mr coach. If you are a sportsman, who knows anything about a team game or what is known as team spirit, apportion the blame on the whole team starting from the coach for this failure.
Mr coach, you yourself was a cricketer who represented the national cricket team once , so please be frank when you make harmful statements about others for the whole world to hear especially of a reputed well disciplined cricketer such as Angelo Mathews. Please do not talk about the Minister of Sports or the Chairman of the Board or their lack of knowledge of the game . Rumors say that some of the cricketers walked in to their rooms as late as one hour pass midnight after partying when there was a match to be played the same evening. What can Angelo Mathews do when indiscipline of this nature is tolerated by the team managers and the coaches?. Angelo, It is very sad to see that you have become a scrape goat in this instance . You have performed well as the leader of the team so far proving it with your own good records. A gang has got together to oust you from the game for no apparent reason, other than gaining free access to fulfill their corrupted needs. The Sri Lanka Cricket Board has asked the wrong man to quit, while the one who is really responsible for our massacre and should be sent home sits still on the throne very comfortably.
The same thing happened to me once when I captained the national basketball team at the Asian Basketball Confederation tournament held in Bangkok in the mid seventies . The Ambassador of Srilanka in Thailand at that time invited the team to dinner at his residence the night before our team had to play a match. Some of the team members got severely drunk including the coach and manager except myself and two other players . The manager had to be carried upstairs to rest and sober himself as he could not even stand erect. So were a few other players of the team. Next day two players reported sick and avoided going to the match. We lost the match miserably and when the team returned to the hotel, we found that the two players who reported sick had gone shopping. I made a verbal complaint to the Basketball Federation on my return and from then onwards I was repeatedly dropped from the national team. Angelo, please do not forget that you have to pay a price with your blood for being loyal to the country, the game , the fans and for trying to enforce discipline to a Nation which only talks about discipline but neither has seen nor experienced it.
I earnestly hope that cricketing maestros like Arjuna , Arvinda, Sanath, Sanga, Dullep, Mahela only to name a few, would shun away their differences of opinions ( if any) and gather in harmony to save cricket in SriLanka and to save great cricketers such as you ( Angelo Mathews) from being victims of corrupted and selfish coaches, selectors ,managers and the likes . I fully understand your plight, but keep going Sir. SriLanka needs you. Please read what Cricketing great Kumar Sangakkara has to say about Angelo Mathews on ‘Divaina’ News Paper of 1st October 2018, Page 20
I wish you and your family well. May God Bless you.
Note:. I have submitted my personal opinion by penning the words above, not with any malice with any individual or an association but with the sole intention of doing justice to a great sportsman, Angelo Mathews .
Former SriLanka Basketball Captain.