Mathews’ record of centuries is currently bare with only one triple figure score
Sri Lanka wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara has issued a challenge to batsmen Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal and captain Angelo Mathews, telling each of them to score at least “35 to 40 hundreds by the time they finish” their careers.
Many of Sri Lanka’s batsmen are inexperienced with the hardships of Test cricket and Mathews, who only recently took over as captain, has just one century to his name.
“For guys like Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo, their target should be to score 35 to 40 hundreds by the time they finish,” Sangakkara said. “They’ve got the ability to do that. Thirimanne batted beautifully today and Dimuth’s [dismissal] was unfortunate. Angie [Angelo] is looking really good. When you look at these younger guys, you see that they’ve got so much to offer Sri Lanka cricket.
“You can say there is a selfish element in getting runs and scoring hundreds, but if you keep doing that, you and your side benefit. When individuals keep pushing themselves to go beyond others, I think that’s a really good atmosphere.”
Sangakkara recently became the tenth all-time leading run scorer in Test cricket, surpassing India legend Sunil Gavaskar.
“Gavaskar was a fantastic batsman, and I’m very privileged to have had a career where I am able to go past him,” Sangakkara said. “Still I am three centuries behind him, but hopefully I can go beyond him on that count too. I’d still like more runs and more wins. I think that’s what motivates all the guys who play.”
The veteran wicketkeeper-batsman also paid tribute to his long time team-mate Thilan Samaraweera, who recently announced his retirement from international cricket.
“Thilan was a magnificent servant of Sri Lankan cricket,” Sangakkara said. “He never had the limelight or the fame that he probably should have. I remember his debut against India – he scored almost a run-a-ball hundred, and was averaging in the 50s. Suddenly he had to stop playing cricket for two years because Aravinda de Silva made a comeback into the side. That’s been the way [throughout] his career. Whenever the team wanted a shift or anything, Thilan was the easiest guy to move up or down, or in or out.
“I just hope that there will be other cricketers out there who will come in and do the kind of service that is unnoticed and unrecognised only [until] when they retire, [so they] can see what an amazing career they’ve had.”