Cricket – Sri Lanka announces new Test, ODI captains

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Colombo: Dinesh Chandimal has been appointed as Sri Lanka’s 15th Test captain following the resignation of Angelo Mathews.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Mathews confirmed he will stand down as captain from the Test and one-day sides in the wake of their shock ODI series defeat to Zimbabwe earlier this week.

The allrounder said he will continue to make himself available for national selection.

Chandimal, who became Sri Lanka’s youngest-ever captain when he was appointed as their T20 skipper in 2013, is set to make his Test captaincy debut on Friday in a one-off match against Zimbabwe in Colombo.

Meanwhile, Upul Tharanga, who filled in as ODI skipper when Mathews was injured during last month’s Champions Trophy, has been appointed permanent captain of the 50- and 20-over sides.

Danesh Chandimal and Upul Tharanga

“Firstly, I would like to thank ‘Anji’ (Mathews),” Chandimal said on Wednesday. “It’s not an easy job as a captain in any team so Anji, you have done a great job the last four, five years.

“We learned a lot from you as players, and as youngsters. As a captain we will miss you but we’re looking forward to you playing and getting your service in future.

“I am really honoured to captain the Test side.

“Thanks to SLC and the selectors who are trusting me as Test captain.

“We have lots of up and downs the last two years but they have really good players, good youngsters and senior players too.

“I’m going to put my heart and soul in for the future to get us in the right position.”

Chandimal was dropped for the five-match series against Zimbabwe after a below-par Champions Trophy campaign, despite being Sri Lanka’s leading run-scorer in ODI cricket last year.

Following the one-off Test against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka host India for a three-Test series beginning later this month.

Mathews on Monday admitted Zimbabwe’s historic triumph in Hambantota, the 11th ranked ODI nation’s first-ever series win over Sri Lanka, represented a new low in his career.

“It’s one of the lowest points in my career, and a hard one to swallow,” Mathews said after the 3-2 series defeat.

“Everything went against us, from the toss to misreading the wicket.

“But there are no excuses. At the end of the day we were not good enough to beat them. They played better cricket.”

Sri Lanka, who are in danger of not qualifying directly for the 2019 World Cup after their series loss to Zimbabwe, are still on the hunt for a head coach after Graham Ford vacated the post last month.

Test great Kumar Sangakkara last month lamented Chandimal’s treatment by team management in recent years, suggesting he should have been groomed to fill the holes left by the likes of Mahela Jayawardena and, although he was too modest to say so, himself.

“One of the accusations directed at the management and the team has been that they haven’t groomed anyone to fill those voids,” Sangakkara said on television commentary during the Champions Trophy.

“But I think the one man that was identified very early was Dinesh Chandimal, who performed excellently in South Africa, then in England, in Australia.

“He’s actually had a period where he’s been identified as the best young player (and was) appointed captain (of the T20 side) probably a bit too soon.

“Then he was dropped from the captaincy, dropped from the team, so he’s never had a consistent run in the position that he was identified for.

“I don’t think the environment he’s played in has been very good for his confidence. Every time he now takes the field, it’s almost as if (he’s) playing for his place, for survival, and that’s not a good place for a young player to be.

“But also we have to re-look at a lot of the things that happen below international level – our first-class structure, our ‘A’ team structure – to make sure we actually drag those structures into the modern day.”

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