Winning the 2014 T20 World Cup was a historic moment: Mathews
Sri Lanka celebrate winning the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in 2014. - (Twitter)
Dubai - The former Sri Lanka captain spoke about the highs and lows of his career and the transition in Sri Lankan cricket
Sri Lanka, the beautiful Emerald Isle nestled in the Indian Ocean, has had many highs and lows and Angelo Mathews has been through that journey as a cricketer.
The former Sri Lankan captain has witnessed the ebbs and flows that come with being a professional cricketer and the 33-year-old pointed to the 2014 T20 World Cup triumph as a historic moment and missing out on the 2011 World Cup final as one of the lowest points of his career.
"That was one of the biggest moments and I will always cherish that moment for the rest of my life because winning a World Cup in any format is a massive, massive achievement and credit should go to the entire team," Mathews told Anis Sajan, mentor of the Delhi Bulls franchise in the Abu Dhabi T10 League, also the managing director of Danube Group, in a video chat titled 'Cricket Unplugged with Anis Sajan.'
"We played really good cricket and I remember we were in Bangladesh for more than three months playing a Test series, then the ODI series and then the World Cup. And I remember we won every single game in those three months against Bangladesh and then whoever we played in the World Cup. And that was a historical moment for the entire team because we got used to the conditions really well, we played some exceptional cricket. We were able to beat India in the final. And again, we came up against a gun Indian team and we were able to keep them to a minimal score of 130, if I'm not mistaken, and then we chased it down. It was a huge moment for all of us," he added.
But prior to that beautiful moment, Mathews, went through the heartbreak of missing out on the 2011 World Cup final because of a quadriceps muscle injury.
And the all-rounder's absence was massively felt in the final as the Sri Lankans lost to co-hosts India at the Wankhede.
"That was my first 50-over World Cup," recalled Mathews.
"Unfortunately I got injured and that was also one of my disappointing moments. I was really looking forward to playing in the final after winning the semifinal. But, unfortunately, the injury kept me away from the final.
"I tried my best and I'm thankful that I was also taken with the squad to India to see if I can play but very unfortunate that I was not able to even walk at that time and it took me about two weeks to sort of walk properly and then start training. I was personally very disappointed to sit out of the World Cup final. That was a very big occasion for me and I was really looking forward to it but unfortunately I was not able to play," he revealed.
Talking about the final, which India won by six wickets and 10 balls to spare after captain MS Dhoni smacked that iconic six, Mathews felt that they were probably 30 runs short.
"If we had got about 320 runs with that Indian batting line-up, we could have still given a really good fight. We were about 20-30 runs short. We had our chances but Gautam (Gambhir) and Virat (Kohli) batted really well and got them through and then MSD (MS Dhoni) joined them and then finished it off. All in all, it was a good game," felt Mathews.
Sri Lanka are in the midst of a transition following the retirements of stalwarts like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene and that has been felt with many young players yet to fill that void. But Mathews believes it is a process and takes time.
"When you lose three or four massive players at once, that creates a massive vacuum in the team. Obviously, the younger guys who try to fill their shoes, will take a bit of time, if not more time because playing international cricket is tough. Hanging in there is even tougher. It is a process, it is always a learning process, it takes time, it takes years to mature unless you get a couple of exceptional players," he said.
"We had some rough times over the last few years specially because we lost three or four very experienced players at once. I think it is all about being consistent with everything. In the past years, we had a lot of chopping and changing and that doesnt help. But we just cant keep passing the ball to everyone. We, as players, also need to take responsibility. Everything needs to fall in line. We all need to work as a group, not only the players, the support staff, selectors, everyone. If we all have the same thinking with a clear goal, I think we can achieve greater heights," explained Mathews.
Having passed on the captaincy baton to others, Mathews is looking forward to contributing as a player and helping the incumbent skipper.
"I had about six years of captaincy, I've lost a lot of hair as well. It is a really hot seat and I enjoyed being the captain over the past years but I think now it is time for the others to take over and I can just be in the back seat and help everyone in whatever possible way I can and share my experience and help the captain. I'm just looking forward to playing as a player, contribute in whatever way I can," he said.