Angelo Matthews has been around so long that he has seen the rise of Sri Lanka in cricket in the late 2000s as well as their decline in the mid-2010s and now, he is part of another resurgence as the calendar moves into the 2020s. He has managed to be a part of all this despite multiple injuries, mostly related to his hamstring, calf and quadriceps.
The ongoing 2nd Test against Pakistan at Galle International Stadium is a milestone match for Sri Lanka’s crisis man. Matthews has now 100 Test caps, and for a player who has had to sit out for lengthy periods due to injuries, this is a massive achievement and testament to his ability and will to come back again and again. We take a look at some of the highlights from the Test career of one of the finest players Sri Lanka have produced.
2014 – The England tour
Perhaps, the biggest highlight of his career, especially away from home. A 27-year-old Matthews took the England team to their first ever series win in England (the 1998 series was a one-off Test) and just their third Test win in the country.
Matthews hit a century in each Test and was the biggest thorn in England’s flesh. His 306 came at an average of 76.5, and he was the second-highest scorer for Sri Lanka behind Kumar Sangakkara’s 342. The series also saw Matthews grab his career-best figures of 4/44 in their win in the 2nd Test. Overall, Matthews has tasted good success in England. He averages 47.88 from five Tests, including a fifty and a couple of centuries.
2014 – Best calendar year
Not only the England tour, but the entire 2014 was Matthew’s best calendar year as a Test player. He scored 1160 runs in just 11 Tests. It’s the most he has ever scored in a year. He averaged 77.33 with eight 50s and two 100s.
Matthews scored at least a 50 in all the countries he played in – Bangladesh, England, New Zealand and U.A.E., not to forget his home country, Sri Lanka. He was the third-highest run-scorer in the world in 2014. 30.3% of his career wickets also came in that year alone, with Matthews picking up 10 wickets at 35.3 runs apiece.
Matthews did all of this while also being the captain of a Sri Lankan team that registered its first-ever series win in England.
The high of 2014 was followed by a couple of mediocre years for Matthews with the bat. He had a decent 2015 where he averaged 42.25 with three 100s, but his average in 2016 and 2017 was less than 30, 28.84 and 29.11, respectively, to be precise.
2019 was Matthews’ worst year as a Test batter. He might have played just four Tests, but he accumulated only 150 runs across seven innings at 25.00. But since then, Matthews has seen a second wind as a batter.
Since 2020, Matthews averages 52.04 in 27 innings across 16 Test matches. His 1204 runs include his first and only score of 200, which he scored against Zimbabwe away from home. In fact, he averages significantly higher away from home (89.37) than at home (33.37).
Matthews might not have made a huge score in his biggest milestone match, but his innings of 42 and 35 have allowed Sri Lanka to gain a significant advantage in the ongoing Test against Pakistan. At 35 years of age, and with a history of injuries, there is no certainty on how long Matthews will continue to play.
Matthews is just 20 runs behind Sanath Jayasuriya’s 6973 Test runs and might soon become the third highest run scorer in Sri Lanka’s Test history, behind Sangakkara’s 12,400 and Mahela Jayawardene’s 11,814. From starting his career as a 21-year-old playing with such stalwarts of Sri Lanka to ending up being one amongst them, Matthews has had a career he would be proud of when he eventually hangs up his boots. Fortunately for the Lankan fans, there aren’t any signs of a goodbye, yet.