Angelo Mathews was one of the beneficiaries of Kumar Sangakkara’s youth push in 2009, when he made his test debut at age 22 in Galle against Pakistan. Thirteen years later, Mathews received commemorative cap and a special gift from the Board before play to mark his 100th Test for Sri Lanka on Sunday. It was at the same venue and against the same opposition.
Prior to the commencement of the first day’s play, SLC vice president Dr Jayantha Dharmadasa and former pacer Chaminda Vaas graced the occasion in the presence of other team members of the Dimuth Karunaratne-led side. Mathews was awarded a memento to commemorate his 100th Test appearance for Sri Lanka.
Mathews made his international debut in 2008, in an ODI against Zimbabwe in Harare. He didn’t have a promising start to his career but eventually, turned out to be a remarkable all-rounder. So far, he has played 218 ODIs, 99 Tests and 78 T20Is, scoring 5835, 6876 and 1148 runs, respectively, including 13 tons in the longest format and 3 in ODIs.
In the last two years, Mathews has lost his place in white ball cricket but he’s been the leading batsman on the test team. He produced back-to-back hundreds (199 and 145) to help Sri Lanka win a test series in Bangladesh in May and he’s on the verge of 7,000 test runs.
“It would be nice to get to 10,000 test runs. Not many guys have done that and that’s something that I want to achieve,” the 35-year-old Mathews said.
“Jimmy Anderson is my inspiration,” he said of England’s record wicket-taker.
“At the age of 40, he’s still delivering and he wants to do it for a couple of more years. It’s the drive that you have. This is not going to stop here and I still have few more years left. Age is just a number and I’ll work on my fitness.” From a young age, Mathews impressed. He featured in two ICC Under-19 World Cups captaining the 2006 edition and in his first major ICC event – the 2009 T20 World Cup in England – he was the standout performer as Sri Lanka finished runner-up to Pakistan.
Not just with his batting, but some terrific fielding efforts and decent spells with the ball including three wickets in his first over in the semifinal match against the West Indies at The Oval where all three batters were bowled.
It didn’t take Mathews much time to find his feet in international cricket, becoming a regular early in his career.
A seam bowling all-rounder is someone Sri Lanka had desperately searched for with little luck and the arrival of Mathews put an end to their worries. Soon, Sri Lanka hit a purple patch. Between 2009-14, the team reached four World Cup finals and won the 2014 T20 World Cup, beating India in the final in Dhaka.
Mathews was elevated to the captaincy at the age of 25 despite the team comprising many seasoned campaigners. Under his leadership, Sri Lanka reached new heights by winning a Twenty20 series in Australia in 2013 and beating England in their own backyard in a one-day international and test series the following year.
Mathews also was Sri Lanka’s captain when they swept Australia 3-0 in a test series in 2016. Soon after, he was hit by injuries. A series of hamstring, ankle and quadriceps injuries saw him frequently sidelined. He stepped down from the captaincy in 2017 and as a result of injuries concentrated on batting alone.