ICC World Cup 2019: Sri Lanka legend blames former captain for team’s downfall

Sri Lanka cricket legend Mahela Jayawardene has blamed former captain Angelo Mathews for the side’s downfall. The island nation come into the ICC World Cup ranked ninth and with an ageing side.

He went on to criticise Dinesh Chandimal as well, along with Mathews, saying that the duo gave in to cricket politics. Which he thinks was one of the reasons behind the team’s downfall, who reached consecutive World Cup finals in 2007 and 2011.

“The only advice [Kumar and I] gave Angelo was not to give in to cricket politics,” Jayawardene said while in conversation with Sunday Times.

“He needs to be a stronger leader, to be with the players and do the right thing. But he gave in to cricket politics. He allowed other people to make decisions and did not stand up for his players.

“I am being honest. I have told him this as well and he accepts it. If he hadn’t give in, we would probably not be in this situation today. Even if I see him today, that’s the only complaint I will have against him.

“The number one rule in Sri Lanka is, if you are the captain, lead by example and do not allow any outsiders coming into that setup. That’s the only way we ran the show and survived. It was unfortunate and it was not easy, either.

“You need to deal with a lot of unwanted elements. But if you are a strong character, that’s something you have to do. I have nothing against him. He is a brilliant cricketer and a wonderful person but he did not handle this situation well. He should be the one who is leading this team at the World Cup. He had to give up because it was too much for him. But it was his fault.

“I think (Chandimal) was another victim of cricket politics. In the sense, he was another player like Angelo Mathews who was snared to elements behind the scene and went along with them rather than taking control of the team and being a strong leader.”

Sri Lanka start their 2019 World Cup campaign against New Zealand on 1st June.