#CT17 Press Conference – Transcript
Q. Angelo, can you give us an update on Thisara Perera and what exactly happened to him yesterday?
ANGELO MATHEWS: He’s fine. He just got hit on the head, but he’s fine. He’s feeling very good. He’s okay.
Q. Obviously, Dhananjaya de Silva has joined the squad. Can you tell us, given the way Kusal (Perera) played the last game, how big a loss it is, and what are Dhananjaya’s chances of featuring in tomorrow’s game?
ANGELO MATHEWS: It’s a shame to lose Kusal. He batted extremely well. Given the fact that he was — we brought him as the third opener, but he can bat in the middle as well. So he’s always that player who can bat anywhere in the batting lineup. So that gives us a lot of options.
Yeah, unfortunate that he’s gone back, but Dhananjaya de Silva is also a very good player, and we had to bring him to the squad because we are left with only seven batters at the moment.
We haven’t still had a good look at the wicket. We’ll probably decide later on or, if not, tomorrow early morning to give ourselves a chance to just see what the wicket looks like tomorrow as well and then make a call. He has a good chance of playing, but we still haven’t decided.
Q. A lot of the other teams in this tournament spent the last couple of years playing a very similar style of one-day cricket. It feels like your team is still in development a little bit. Yet, here you are on the verge of perhaps a semifinal of the Champions Trophy. Are you a little bit ahead of where you thought the team might be at this point?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Well, look, we were just concentrating how we can get better and better each day. You know, every single game is an opportunity and an experience to learn. I think, yes, we’ve got a young set of players who are still coming through the ranks and who are still unfamiliar with the international level, but the skill is obviously there. We know what we can do. We showed the other day.
We are not going — we are not trying to get too far ahead. We just want to take one game at a time. We’re not thinking about the semifinal as of now. We’re just taking on Pakistan tomorrow. We’ve got to play really good cricket to beat them, and we all know that they’re a very dangerous team. And they can play really good cricket on the day as well and beat any team.
So we are not — you know, there’s no room for complacency in this kind of tournament. We have to be on top to beat them.
Q. Angelo, over the last three years, your ODI batting average has moved up to 50. Can you — do you know what the difference has been in your game? Or what’s clicked for you over the last two or three years that’s taken you to another level as an ODI batsman?
ANGELO MATHEWS: You know, I think, even though I’m the captain of the team, I’ve always tried to contribute as a batter and a bowler and on the field because I’m another player when I get onto the field. So my contribution is also very important to the team. So I try my very best to try and concentrate on what I have to do rather than thinking about the captaincy and too many other things happening. So I’ve always focused on what I have to do at the job at hand.
Yes, I’ve worked extremely hard, just like the others. It’s just I think through my experience I’m learning the game a bit more now. Yes, I’m slowly understanding the game a little bit better than what I used to. And, yes, I’m learning every day.
Q. You have such an influential personality, and we always admire you as a player, as a captain, but after Sangakkara and Mahela, what were the two-three contributing factors which you kept in your mind as coach to groom your young side?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Yes. As I always say, it’s very easy to captain a side when you have Sangakkaras, Mahelas, Malingas, all these guys, and the challenge began really after they retired. You know, Lasith is obviously still with us, but Sangakkara and Mahela, when they retired, it created a lot of vacuum in the team, and we had to sort of persist with the younger players and give them confidence.
It’s not easy — when you lose a few games here and there, it’s never easy. The pressure is on. It’s just that you’ve got to try and deal with the pressures or try and stick with them, give them a lot of confidence. Yes, we know the talent that we have in the dressing room. It’s just that we need to try and stay positive with them and give them a lot of opportunities and give them a longer run being consistent with them. We obviously will see more results in the future.
Q. The game tomorrow is virtually a quarterfinal. How are you looking forward to it, especially the way you played against India? And how do you rate Pakistan as an opponent?
ANGELO MATHEWS: I think the two games between South Africa and India and us and Pakistan are virtually quarterfinals. We’ve just got to treat this as just another game because we know that the pressure is on obviously. And both teams will feel the pressure.
So we’ve got to — you know, as we came into the Indian game, we knew that there were no expectations. You know, as I said at the post-match press conference, that the pressure was not really on us, and that’s how we want to look at this game as well. Yes, there will be expectations now, but we just want to treat this just as a game and try and focus on what we have to do and what we can do.
Q. The last two chases you had, you had one where you tried to break it quite early on and went as hard as you could, and the next chase you pulled it back. Was that a conscious effort or just two different games, or were you really trying to change the way you went about the chase?
ANGELO MATHEWS: It was probably similar games. We just had to — you know, after the good starts that we had in the last two games, we just had to — we just needed someone to bat through the innings, but still at the same time, we needed the rate to be under eight. The sooner the rate goes up 8.5 and 9, it’s starting to become difficult for the batters, and they need to go for their shots.
So that was a conscious effort to keep the rate down below 7.5 so that it’s always within reach, you can reach it all the time?
And it was — yeah, we just needed someone to try and anchor the innings, which I had to do in the second, and I thought all the others batted brilliantly. I thought Danushka and Kusal gave us the platform so that the middle order players could go out there and express themselves, as well as cameo — and Kusal’s innings was a real game changer.
Q. Danushka looked very confident and didn’t look as if he had to adjust to conditions and things. How important, Angelo, was it having him right from the start with the team in case something happened to someone?
ANGELO MATHEWS: Yeah, I think the credit should go to SLC on that because they themselves told that we — you know, it’s better off to take 17, train with the squad, and acclimatize, just in case something happens, an injury or something, and that really paid off because, you know, he just had to walk in the day before the game. He just knew that he was going to play, and he just had to walk in — because he was very familiar with the conditions. So the credit should go to SLC for thinking on those lines, and, yeah, it really paid off.