Why finding Sri Lanka’s next coach is tough task


SLC had to pay compensation to Geoff Marsh after terminating his contract on flimsy grounds. Here the coach chats to then captain Tillekeratne Dilshan.

by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka Cricket is on the lookout to replace Head Coach Marvan Atapattu, who stepped down from the position after an unsuccessful stint. The names of Chandika Haturusinghe and Graham Ford have emerged as possible replacements, but SLC could be extending their search beyond these two names.

The board has already experienced how not to select a new coach. When they were looking for a replacement for Graham Ford last year, the names who were shortlisted were in the public eye and that eventually caused some discomfort, forcing the coaches to pull out.

One former England batsman, who was with the English and Wales Cricket Board coaching staff was having negotiations with SLC when his name came up in public and suddenly he distanced himself firmly committing to England.

So this time, SLC seems to be playing their cards close to their chest. The names of Haturusinghe and Ford therefore could be for the consumption of the media while SLC may have other names in mind.

Haturusinghe put it plainly earlier this week when he said that he had not been contacted by SLC. Even if the board were to contact him now, he seems to be content with what he does at the moment.

"At this stage I am very happy with what I am doing. Not only the players and my staff, even the board has given us a lot of support. We are doing well and everything is falling into place," Haturusinghe said.

Haturusinghe is highly regarded in Bangladesh after he was able to transform the fortunes of their national team in a very short period. Bangladesh reached the quarter-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup early this year ahead of England. Then they beat Pakistan, India and South Africa in bilateral ODI series. Thank god that Sri Lanka is not playing Bangladesh any sooner.

Like any person, Haturusinghe would love to coach his country, but the volatile nature of the cricket establishment must be discouraging him.

The Cricket Interim Committee has taken several steps in the right direction and Haturusinghe would love to work with them, but the truth is that their tenure will not last more than next January.

Sri Lanka did miss out on a golden opportunity to hire him soon after Ford stepped down. Haturusinghe, who was deputy to Trevor Bayliss left Sri Lanka in 2010 over a dispute with a board official. However, last year, he was willing to come back, but certain powerful individuals within SLC blocked his return with clever political maneuverings.

Highly respected and a demanding coach, Haturusinghe would have taken Sri Lankan cricket to new heights. But those who needed more clout within the national cricket team were worried of having a powerful coach at the top.

That the appointment of the national cricket team’s Head Coach was done without the knowledge or the consent of then SLC President Jayantha Dharmadasa is an indication of the politics that were taking place within SLC last year.

Many established coaches love working in Sri Lanka, They are extremely excited with the talent on show. But soon get discouraged given Sri Lanka Cricket’s recent reputation.

Geoff Marsh, the former Australian opening batsman is one of the finest cricket coaches around. Marsh had won both the Ashes and the World Cup as a coach and had worked with some of the legends of the sport like Steve Waugh and Shane Warne. He was brought in to coach Sri Lanka in 2011.

However, after just two tours, Marsh was unceremoniously sacked on some flimsy grounds. He had actually done well having helped Sri Lanka to their first ever Test win in South Africa.

Marsh took legal actions against SLC and the board had to pay a massive compensation.

Then another Australian - Steve Rixon, also with excellent coaching credentials exposed SLC’s unprofessional approach when he was a candidate to take up the job last year.

Trevor Bayliss, who finished a four year term with Sri Lanka in 2011, in an interview after his tenure spoke of politicians meddling with the affairs of the national cricket team and that didn’t go down with most decent men.

The maximum SLC will offer the Head Coach is US$ 200,000 a year. But with that kind of money available in one season of IPL, most established coaches are happy to do a shorter stint.

All in all, you will find that some coaches who are still trying to establish themselves showing interest in the Sri Lanka job. So we can leave out any big names including Haturusinghe and Ford.

Four years ago, SLC sent word to John Buchanan that they were interested in recruiting him. He apparently quoted an annual sum of US$ 500,000 and SLC never bothered to contact him again.

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...