Former Angelo Mathews was unable to play the position he was selected for at a pretty normal Cricket World Cup 2019. As a batsman of medium order, he just had one fifty an unbeatable 85, to display several low ratings against Britain.
In part, Sri Lanka did not reach the competition levels due to its low level of performance, resulting in the loss of three of its eight World Cup games so far and the lack of a location in the semi-finals.
However, with Sri Lanka on the brink of suffering their fourth loss against West Indies, it was Mathews in quite a different role who saved them from embarrassment and turned a game that was going the opposition’s way to a 23-run win for his team here on Monday.
Due to his constant run with injuries, Mathews on medical advice had temporarily abandoned bowling his gentle medium-pacers. He last bowled in an ODI against India in December 2017 but when he saw the West Indies gradually taking the game away from Sri Lanka by the audacious batting of 23-year-old Trinidian Nicholas Pooran, it was time he thought that he should step in and bring his experience into play even if it was going to be at the cost of putting his career on the line by bowling.
“We knew that we had to make up two overs. We couldn’t just bowl the spinner towards the end when Pooran was batting beautifully, so I said to the captain, “Look, I have a bit of experience, so I’ll just try bowling the two overs,” recalled Mathews at the post-match press conference.
“I haven’t held the ball for, what, a good eight months and that was the first ball after eight months. Pooran was the man that we needed to get and, you know, quite fortunate to get him in the first ball before he clobbered me for a few sixes I thought,” he said.
“But, yeah, it was a fantastic effort by Pooran. He batted all the way through and he nearly got them through, but it was fortunate for us, you know, to get him at the right time.”
“I haven’t been bowling in the nets at all. That was the first ball that I got Pooran out and that was after eight months! If I got injured at that time, I wouldn’t have regretted it because we had the game in our hands and we needed the bowler to come in and bowl a couple of overs to make that two overs.”