Some cricketers never fade away. Fifteen years after his ODI debut, and with just three matches under his belt in the last two-and-a-half years, Angelo Mathews and his unwavering temperament are back.
The 36-year-old is in as an injury replacement for speedster Matheesha Pathirana and the 2023 edition of the World Cup will be his fourth for Sri Lanka. In a charming twist, the current skipper Kusal Mendis (standing-in for Dasun Shanaka) made his debut under Mathews in 2016.
“He’s evolved so much over the last five, six years,” Mathews said of Mendis, ahead of the encounter against England. “Now he’s showing his maturity [by] playing fearless cricket. I’ve played under so many different captains and they’ve also played under me. It’s a cycle. So playing under Kusal gives me pleasure.”
If Mathews makes the playing XI, his batting prowess and Mendis’ free-spiritedness will be crucial against England.
“It’s always a contest with the English. We know the brand of cricket they play and you got to be positive. If you take a backward step, they are going to jump on to you. You have to fight fire with fire.”
Not fading away
England’s Moeen Ali, on his part, hoped that the reigning ODI and T20 world champions’ competitive fire hadn’t been doused. “There are still a lot of players that can play for a long time,” the 36-year-old said when asked if this England side was on its last legs.
“There’s obviously a few of us who are a bit older, more than likely won’t make the next World Cup, but I don’t think it’s the end of anything. It could potentially be the start of something else.
“We’re still in the competition. We’ve got to win every game. But we know that we can do it.
“We’re obviously disappointed from the result [vs. South Africa]. Not just the result, but the way we played. But you’ve got to move on. Everything is a must-win and we’ve been in this position before, probably not to this degree. We have to get our confidence [back] and perform.”