Angelo Mathews, one of the most understated to have played 100 Test matches

Colin Cowdrey became the first cricketer to play 100 Test matches in 1968, nine years before the centenary of Test cricket. At the time, it was hard to imagine that a little over half a century later there would be 72 players who would reach this coveted milestone.

Angelo Mathews is set to become the 72nd to appear in 100 Tests on July 24.

Only five other Sri Lankans have played 100 Tests, Mahela Jayawardene (149), Kumar Sangakkara (134), Muttiah Muralitharan (132), Chaminda Vaas (111), and Sanath Jayasuriya (110).

So one is almost surprised that Angelo Mathews will join the ranks of these giants from his country. He would certainly be one of the most humble to join this exclusive club.

Yet one look at Mathews' record of 6,876 runs at an average of 45.23, 13 centuries and 38 fifties with the highest number of unbeaten 200 dispels all doubts about his presence in this elite group. The explosive Jayasuriya scored 6,973 runs at 40.07 with 14 hundreds!

Mathews made his Test debut 13 years ago in July 2009, incidentally against the same opponents Pakistan, at the same venue in Galle where he will play his 100th Test.

He became Sri Lanka's youngest Test captain in February 2013 at the age of 25. He celebrated this achievement with a brilliant 2014, amassing 1,160 runs at an average of 77.33.

After scoring a fine century in the drawn-out first Test at Lord's against England that year, he scored a brilliant 160 in the second and final Test at Headingley. This allowed Sri Lanka to win the Test by 100 runs and secure their first series in England. That doesn't count the one-off Test victory in 1998.

Luminaries, apart from Angel Mathews who played 100 Test matches and some of their performances

Of course, Sachin Tendulkar leads the list with 200 Test matches. Among those still playing, England's pace duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad have 172 and 156 Tests respectively.

Another Englishman, Joe Root, comes next with 121 Tests. The only other current players in this league are Nathan Lyon (110) and Virat Kohli (102).

Only nine players have hit a century in their 100th Tests. Colin Cowdrey scored 104, followed by Javed Miandad (145) in 1989, Gordon Greenidge (149) in 1990, Alec Stewart (105) in 2000, and Inzamam-ul-Haq (184) in 2005.

Ricky Ponting became the first to score a century in each innings of his 100th Test with 120 and 143 not out in 2006. Graeme Smith (131) achieved the feat in 2012, Hashim Amla (134) in 2017, and finally the in-form man Joe Root (218) in 2021. This is also the highest score and only double century in the 100th Test.

One hopes that Angelo Mathews will make his 100th Test in picturesque Galle a memorable one. Pakistan won the first Test with a tremendous run in the fourth innings.

A reliable middle-order batsman, brilliant fielder, and occasional medium-pacer with 33 Test wickets, Angelo Mathews has been Sri Lanka's man through the ages, bringing together two generations of cricketers from the island nation. There is no doubt that there is much more to come from him.