Tillakaratne Dilshan, the explosive Sri Lankan opener, took a subtle dig at current captain Angelo Mathews over the all-rounder’s bowling workload during his 10-month captaincy stint in 2011 post the ICC Cricket World Cup. Dilshan took over the reigns once Kumar Sangakkara stepped down after the final but revealed on Sunday (August 28) that he didn’t find enough support from his teammates.
Dilshan believes that Mathews didn’t bowl enough during his tenure but increased the workload the moment Mahela Jayawardene was back at the helm. “I didn’t actually plan to take the captaincy, but the SLC president asked me to take over for six months until we find someone else,” Dilshan said. “Unfortunately, we had also lost two bowlers. Murali (Muralitharan) had retired. Nuwan Kulasekara was injured. Ajantha Mendis was injured. I didn’t have great resources.
“Angelo Mathews had a calf injury for a year that stopped him from bowling. That must be because of my misfortune, because after I had stepped down, we went to Australia after a week. In that week, Mathews started bowling. That must be because of Mahela’s good fortune.”
The 39-year-old was also not pleased with the fact that no senior player was willing to take over the captaincy for the final Test against England during the 2011 tour after he had been ruled out with an injury. “There actually wasn’t anyone who was willing to be captain.
“Everyone resigned after the 2011 World Cup. In England a ball hit my hand and I broke my finger, and the former captains were asked to lead, and they said no. After that only when it was talked about that someone like Sanath Jayasuriya or Thilina Kandamby be made captain that someone (Sangakkara) presented himself to be captain. But I guess there’s no point talking about those past things anymore.”
Dilshan’s final assignment as captain was the tour of South Africa by the end of the year. Even though Sri Lanka won their first-ever Test match in the African nation, they went on to lose the series 2-1. In the succeeding One-Day International series, the visitors were then dismissed for a paltry 43 in the first game – their lowest-ever total in the 50-over format.
Even though he revealed that he was ‘hurt’ by the board’s decision to remove him as skipper for the Tri-series in Australia in January, he insisted that he ‘put everything aside’ in order to focus on his performances. Dilshan eventually hit a century each against India and Australia in the series and was named the Player of the Tournament. “I went to Australia, scored 500 runs, and became Man of the Series. It didn’t matter to me who was captain. I wasn’t concerned about who ousted me as captain. I always play for my country.”
Dilshan is still bowing out on a happy note though and is proud of the fact that a few youngsters who were blooded during his reign have grabbed their opportunities. “I am proud that it is players that I brought into the team at the time who are winning matches now.
“About six or seven of the players today are cricketers who I’d given a chance to. At the time it was a problem for me, because people asked me why I was giving young players so many opportunities. But today, we should look at players like Dinesh Chandimal.”
Even though Dilshan felt that he would have been able to contribute for another year or two, he decided to quit keeping the 2019 World Cup in mind. “If I play for another two years and leave, there’s only 18 months before the next World Cup and that’s unfair to the team,” he noted.
“A young player could be blooded in that time. Since I started opening six years ago, we haven’t found a permanent partner for me. I’ve opened with about 10 people – so that’s a problematic area for us. If I keep playing we won’t be able to get two batsmen settled in that place. I’ll be able to get some rest.”