There was surprise in cricket circles when after Michael Clarke’s injury-prompted withdrawal, Pune Warriors anointed Angelo Mathews as skipper. More so as the move came in the backdrop of anti-Sri Lanka protests and the consequent prospect of his having to skip matches in Chennai (home to Chennai Super Kings and host to the eliminator, if they make it). But, believe it or not, after Indian skippers, it is Sri Lankans who have found most favour as captains.
With the Pune Warriors, it wasn’t a case of the team lacking experience, as it has seasoned players like Yuvraj Singh, Marlon Samuels, Ross Taylor and Mathews’ own compatriot Ajantha Mendis. But the management chose Mathews, factoring in his experience in the subcontinent.
“He has shown a lot of leadership skills and is very familiar with the conditions. And if he doesn’t get injured, he is an automatic choice for every match, given his all-round abilities,” pointed out Pune Warriors’ assistant coach Pravin Amre, in effect revealing the logic behind other IPL-6 teams picking skippers from the subcontinent too—familiarity with the conditions.
Mathews is the third Sri Lankan skipper in IPL-6, the other two being the vastly experienced Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Despite the IPL governing council urging teams not to field Lankan players against the Super Kings in Chennai, the Daredevils and Sunrisers (a franchise headed by DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s grandnephew Kalanidhi Maran) have persisted with Jayawardene and Sangakkara, respectively.
Lankans have grabbed the better share of IPL’s captaincy pie, despite the notion that Australians and South Africans make for a better choice.
Rewind to 2009, two Aussies, a Brit and a Kiwi headed teams. By 2010 the number of captains from outside the subcontinent was just two before Daniel Vettori took charge of Royal Challengers and made it three in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, it’s back to two again, Kings XI Punjab’s Adam Gilchrist and Mumbai Indian’s Ricky Ponting.