Dunedin - Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews
believes it is time to stop talking of former batting greats Mahela Jayawardene
and Kumar Sangakkara after a 122-run defeat in the first Test against New
Since Jayawardene stepped down from Test
cricket in 2014 and Sangakkara followed him into retirement earlier this year the
Sri Lankans have struggled.
On Monday they lost the opening Test
against New Zealand after winning the toss and bowling first on a green wicket
It was a harsh lesson for the new-look
line-up with Kithuruwan Vithanage playing his ninth Test and Udara Jayasundera,
Milinda Siriwardana, Kusal Mendis and Dushmantha Chameera having only nine
Tests between them.
Jayawardene retired after 149 Tests in
which he averaged 49.84 with the bat while the mercurial Sangakkara retired
after scoring 12 400 runs at 57.40 in 134 Tests.
Skipper Mathews said that was a lot of
experience to lose, but he believed the new brigade will develop into a quality
"They showed a lot of guts, they
didn't want to give up even though one played his debut and others were playing
their second or third game," he said after the match.
"The quality is there in the dressing
room, it's just the mindset that needs to shift around.
"We've always talked about not having
Sangakkara and Mahela in the team. It's history and we've just to move on with
it, take responsibility and try and score runs."
Both Mathews and his New Zealand
counterpart Brendon McCullum agreed Sri Lanka had the upper hand when they won
the toss and bowled first on a wicket ripe for seamers.
Mathews lamented that his bowlers were
unable to make the most of the favourable conditions.
"After winning the toss on a green
wicket, I expected a lot more from the bowlers. We bowled a lot of loose
stuff," he said.
"We lost our way in the first couple
of sessions and we let them off the hook. We were also way too cautious in our
first innings batting."
In reply to New Zealand's first innings of
431, Sri Lanka were all out for 294.
New Zealand declared their second innings
at 267 for 3 and Sri Lanka found the 405-run target too much as they folded for
"As a batting unit we need to score
runs to give our bowlers a chance. Scoring 290-300 is not enough on these
tracks," said Mathews.
"Once the seam movement goes off in
the first couple of sessions it gets really good for batting."
Mathews said he envisaged improvement, but
it would take time.
"It's not easy for a batter to
straight away come in and start performing," he said. "It's just a
matter of time, hopefully they'll learn pretty quickly."