Health is more important than playing cricket – Mathews | Daily News
COVID-19 curtails star all-rounder’s successful comeback trail from injury

Health is more important than playing cricket – Mathews

Angelo Mathews bowling was a rare sight until the recent cricket series.

Having struggled for the best part of his international cricket career with a string of injuries that had prevented him from displaying his outstanding talents as an all-rounder, Angelo Mathews was showing signs of having gradually coming out of that rut with some eye-catching performances against Zimbabwe and West Indies and lining himself up for battle with Joe Root’s Englishmen when the coronavirus broke out and put all sports around the world on hold.

“I was keenly looking forward to playing but at the same time we have to do with the current situation, health is more important than anything else so we have to do what is told by the government and adhere to it,” Mathews told the Daily News.

“We need to help the tri-forces, the health sector the police and everyone that is our duty. Health is number one priority. Before playing cricket we want to try and stay at home and hopefully the situation gets better soon,” he said.

Mathews who has a history of injuries that has affected his career throughout was coming to terms with it when he started to play like the Mathews of old that we all know on the Test tour to Zimbabwe where he spent ten hours in the middle in stifling heat and a slow unresponsive pitch that did not invite stroke play of any sort to compile his maiden Test double century at Harare. He followed this innings up with 64 and 13 in the second Test also at Harare to pick up the Player of the Series award.

The 32-year-old all-rounder and former captain followed this effort with some exceptional performances on the field in the three-match ODI series against West Indies helping Sri Lanka make a clean 3-0 sweep. He was outstanding on the field but more than that it was his contribution with the ball that counted most containing the strong West Indies batting with his nippy slow medium-paced deliveries that included a match-winning performance in the final ODI at Pallekele where he bowled his full quota of ten overs – the first time he had done since July 2015 to take 4 wickets for 59 and clinch for Sri Lanka a nerve-wracking six-run win. When captain Dimuth Karunaratne was left one bowler short losing his death bowler Nuwan Pradeep to a hamstring injury, Mathews put his hand up to make up for the remaining overs and what a game-changer it turned out to be.

These performances illuminated that Mathews was back to his best and in the two series had not shown any hint of the injuries that had beset him in his career. Further testimony to Mathew’s fitness was when he was included in the Sri Lanka team for the two T20 Internationals against West Indies. Due to his constant battle with injuries Mathews was never an automatic choice for the T20I side playing just two matches in the past three years.

Sitting on the sidelines is something that Mathews has experienced quite often in his career with the number of injuries he has suffered, but he said the present situation was different.

“Being out of action with injury and the present situation they are completely two different scenarios. This one I have never faced something like this before. It has put the entire world to a standstill,” said Mathews.

“Whatever precautions the government wants taken we have to appreciate, it is not easy shutting down a country but that is what it is and, it is the way forward in terms of getting rid of this dangerous Covid-19. Everyone has to take this very seriously and adhere to all the rules. It is something very serious,” said the elder statesman of the Sri Lanka team with 86 Tests and 217 ODI appearances. 

Mathews said that he was catching up on lost time with his family – wife and two kids aged 3 and 2 during this period and also concentrating on his fitness regime.  

“I am doing a lot of gym obviously we can’t go to any ground. The trainer has sent us individual programs which we are following. At the same time I am spending a lot of time with the kids -practically just playing along with them. That way we are not basically confined to home,” said Mathews.

“Basically it’s the same over and over again each day because we are just blocked and the curfew is not lifted in most parts of the country. Watching a few movies, spending time in the gym I have a small gym at home with a few equipments, doing some gardening, basically that’s what I am doing,” he said.

Speaking further Mathews said, “We are helping as much as we can in terms of the doctors and whatever requests that comes. We had a couple of them which we have already helped; one is together with some lawyers to buy equipment for the National hospital especially for the corona patients. We also donated money to purchase PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to the Homagama hospital.”

Mathews said that he has no complaints not being able to play cricket.

“Definitely I miss playing cricket no doubt. You would like to be on the park that is our job and our passion but at the same time we get time to spend at home and with the family, so can’t complain.”

“When you are staying at home the good thing is get to spend a lot of time with the family and I am being very positive. This is a good break but hopefully everything will be over soon and we can get back to our daily routine soon.”

Mathews said that he had no problem with regard to getting food items. “We are trying to order it online and it’s been okay so far. The government has put some sort of service in place where the distributors can come door to door and deliver it to us. That takes the pressure off from everyone.”

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