Kumar Sangakkara has hailed the importance of Angelo Mathews to Sri Lanka’s chances at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
The Sri Lanka legend, who is the only player in history to score four consecutive centuries at the Cricket World Cup, believes Sri Lanka need Mathews’ all-round ability to be able to launch a challenge at next summer’s tournament.
While Sri Lanka’s batting isn’t an issue in Sangakkara’s eyes, their lack of depth in the bowling department does raise doubts.
“I think they’ll go well [at the World Cup],” said Sangakkara ahead of the South Africa vs Sri Lanka ODI series, which kicks off on Sunday 29 July.
“They have some excellent batsmen. I think bowling is where the concern is, whether we can restrict sides to manageable or chaseable totals, or restrict sides below totals that our batsmen can get.”
Mathews was reinstated as Sri Lanka’s ODI captain back in January, but injury has limited his availability since then. However, he has been named in their squad for the upcoming ODI series against South Africa.
He played solely as a batsman during last year’s ICC Champions Trophy, failing to bowl a single ball at the tournament due to a hamstring injury. Sangakkara thinks this will have to change if Sri Lanka are to make an impact at the World Cup.
“It’ll also be the balance of the side, how Angelo Mathews goes about, whether he’s fit enough to bowl, because that’s the most crucial aspect of Angelo in the side; that balance he gives us being the all-rounder.
“I have a lot of confidence in the fact that Sri Lanka is another team who does well in big tournaments.”
As for the chances of Sangakkara dusting off his boots to make a return at the World Cup? He was less optimistic about that!
“You can’t reverse the clock! Age catches up with everyone and I’m pretty happy and comfortable watching it from the stands.
“There are times when I miss it and times when I see the hard yards done by the players that I don’t.”
While a player of Sangakkara’s undoubted quality is a loss for Sri Lanka, they will be hoping to spring a surprise at next year’s tournament.
You can apply to watch Sri Lanka at CWC19 during the Public Ballot, which opens on 1 August. Click here to pre-register.