Captaincy poser for new Sri Lankan selectors

By Desmond Samith | January 30, 2013

PhotoWho is Sri Lanka’s next cricket captain? Is it Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Thilina Kandamby or someone else? These questions have been doing the rounds ever since Mahela Jayawardene announced he would step down from captaincy during the recently concluded cricket series in Australia.

Although Mathews had been earmarked as captaincy material sometime back, made Jayawardene’s understudy and also granted the Twenty20 captaincy recently, his acquiring of the Test captaincy is doubtful now, especially after sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s remarks that Sri Lanka would adopt the policy of split captaincy.

Mathews is likely to be captain for the two shorter forms, but who will captain the Test team? Will it be Chandimal as is being touted or Lahiru Thirimanne? Or will it be Kandamby?

If the argument is that Mathews is not mature enough to handle the Test team, then questions arise as to what experience has Chandimal. There is no doubting Chandimal's talents as a batsman, but can he handle the pressures of Test cricket? Both Chandimal and Thirimanne are still unproven in Tests, the most mentally challenging form of the game. They need to prove themselves in that form of the game first, and learn to play under pressure. Thrusting captaincy upon youngsters is not the right move, as undue pressure can hamper their progress and cut short their promising careers.

Kandamby, because of his experience in captaining Sri Lanka A, can step in as captain. But the question is, can he find a place in the Test side? Sri Lanka need to select their best players be it for Tests, ODIs or T20s, and captaincy must be handed to the most capable player. Appointing a captain sans much thought, to only later discover the captain is struggling to hold his place in the side, will be embarrassing.

What experience and knowledge in cricket does the sports minister posses to claim split captaincy is the best way forward for Sri Lanka? If he believes this is the right move for Sri Lanka because the Aussies are doing it, the English are doing it and the South Africans are doing it, he’s reasoning is not sound.

Why does a country ever need to appoint two different captains? The answer is simple: if your Test captain does not play short forms of the game – ODIs and T20s – then you need to have two separate captains. In Australia, Michael Clarke does not play T20s, therefore, he captains the Test and the ODI teams, while George Bailey captains the T20 team. Alastair Cook is England’s Test and ODI captain. Cook doesn’t play T20 cricket, so Stuart Broad captains the side in the shortest form. South Africa’s Test captain Graeme Smith doesn’t play T20 cricket, and that's why they have a different captain for that format. Now, take the case in India — MS Dhoni plays all three forms of the game and captains all three teams. In the West Indies, it’s the same scenario.

Both Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara captained Sri Lanka in all three forms, as they were regular members of the sides that played in all three forms. When Aluthgamage, or the selectors led by Sanath Jayasuriya, say Mathews will only captain the ODI and T20 sides, the only conclusion we can come to is that he won’t have a place in the Test side. If he’s playing in all three forms of the game, he can very well captain all three sides. The only rational argument in favour of split captaincy in Sri Lanka's case is the workload of players; captaining in all forms can be hugely demanding and very taxing on a player.

Split captaincy can make it harder for both captains to have full control of the team, and to imprint their style of leadership on the team. It may also create unnecessary tensions within the dressing room. What guarantee is there that such a scenario will not create factions within the team?

If the two captains have contrasting personalities, and their approach to the game is quite different, say one is quite aggressive while the other always looks to play it safe, then it may also create inconsistencies in the development process of the national team.

Desmond Samith is a sports journalist for the Ceylon Today newspaper.

© Ceylon Today


Budditha's picture
Member since:
2 September 2012
Last activity:
2 years 6 weeks

What SLC have to do is Appoint Angelo Mathews as the captain of all 3 formats of the game and appoint Dinesh Chandimal as his vice. after a year they can appoint Dinesh Chandimal as the T20 captain and Angelo to build a strong test side.

LOLZ's picture

The article perfectly makes sense.... the problem is if the minister and the selectors have the same sense of logic on their minds... I agree Angie might loose his place due to injuries & what nonsense is Kandamby doing on the list?? he hasn't played an International Test matches in ages... I can imagine the selector's logic :D It should be a another SOS call for Mahela or Sanga then....

Raneesh Hewage's picture

For the time being Sri Lanka should appoint a TEST captain on tour basis...

tp_r's picture

Graeme Smith is NOT captain of ODI team, but he still plays in the ODI team under AB de Villiers, and he hasn't said he doesn't play T20s, he's just no picked for T20s

Anonymous's picture

Where does it say Smith is ODI captain? It says he doesn't play T20 cricket so that's why they have different captains. Senseless yapping takes away from more important discussions. Having two captains is a simple way for Mahinda Rajapakse to break up the players backbones. Recently Mahela stood up for the players when they were trying to take away fees that the ICC pays for them. SLC leaked Mahela's letter and betrayed him during Aus tour too. This is a way to make sure the new captain has no power.

Sachina's picture

Apita hamoma karana wada karanna ba kiyala terum ganne nane... Apita sampath simithai kiyala mahelath qwa...

SLrulezFlorida's picture

This is utter bull*****. What the hell this sport minister know about Cricket. When they take so much time to make a decision, That means they are gonna screw somebody over. If not Mathews, THEN WHO ????? If they consider Chandimal or Thiri, the selectors must be outta their minds. If they don't want Mathews to lead the Test team bcoz he is Tamil or something, I will freaking shoot those selectors if I have to. (I am Sinhalese by the way ). Make Mathews the skipper for all 3 formats. He has shown what a classy player he is with a very cool head. He is the best we've got.

Ranjan Rodrigo's picture
Member since:
8 January 2012
Last activity:
1 year 27 weeks

No country will aappoint ODI and T20 before Test captaincy. May be Mahindananda the dumb fellow who knows absolutely nothing of Cricket thinks ODI is the important game.And wgy is Sanath taking so long to appoint Test captain.My gosh, since Sanath cud not play WC and to silence Hashan and Pramodaya, they have been made selectors. Earlier to silence Duleep and Brendan , they too were given jobs again. Saame for Ajith. Soon Tennekoon will also be brought back.. Musicaal chairs isnt it.
Many fans are no more intredted in Cricket and I am on the verge of giving up.
It will not be christmas every day for this jimband who have roped in mathivanan and Michael Z also be giving spoils.
I can sy Hashan was all along going to be made a selector with permnanent salary and scretly brougt in. Surely Hemanth if he had pressure of work shud not have accepted infirst plce.
Ranjan Rodrigo Sydney

Anonymous's picture

"If the argument is that Mathews is not mature enough to handle the Test team" ??.. why would the writer say this, is it a quote by anybody from the selecting committee, new or old ??.. Instead, bottom line, what I see is, Mathews is not fit enough to play test cricket as an all rounder. Its nothing new, he breaks down, lays off long, when he bowls long spells. However, he is an absolute asset in the shorter forms of the game, be it as an all rounder, batsman or match winner for Sri Lanka and, of course "IPL", where he is sort after and SLC as we all know has IPL in mind before anything. My theory is, why would Sri Lanka risk playing him the format he breaks down instead of the formats he dominates and wins matches, and, so, the decision to play him only when necessary in test (rotation policy, like CA) and make full use of him in ODIs, 20/20s and IPL, with his consent (definitely) may I add, should be the reason they are looking for another to captain tests, which actually is not an important format anymore as far as SLC or cricketing superstars are concerned. Tests, unfortunately, for SLC and our heroes these days have virtually become a launching pad to find players for the formats with $$$$$$$.., PERIOD !

silvanalin's picture

In the current squad Mathews is the only person experienced enough to take captaincy in the all formats of the game. I agree his place in test cricket is not very solid. But he should be given chances to lead and they can assess test captaincy tour by tour. Chandimal is vice captain material but not experienced enough to be a captain. His whole carrier may breakdown if they made his captain prematurely. For limited overs and T20 their is no better captain than Mathews. I hope selectors will be sensible.

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