Sri Lanka’s long, long quest to fixing the right team balance happily culminated yesterday in the hiring of the ideal Head Coach in the own home grown local expertise of Chandika Hathurusinghe as Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) President, Thilanga Sumathipala put it on a day the final touches found Hathurusinghe airing that he was highly positive of delivering on the heartening available rich player talent with Sports Minister, Dayasiri Jayasekera giving a timely reminder to the local media that it was solely criticism oriented while ignoring the facts of Sri Lanka’s victory achievements against South Africa (T20 in South Africa), Australia (T20 in Australia), Zimbabwe (Tests, ODIS & T20) and Pakistan (Tests away). Significantly, prominence was given to prioritizing the latest modern technology scientific skills that has become a primary weapon of top cricketing nations in surging forward. The head table comprised SLC President, Thilanga Sumathipala, Sports Minister, Dayasiri Jayasekera, SLC Chief Executive Officer, Ashley De Silva and Vice President in charge of international cricket, K. Mathivanan.
While the SLC president disclosed the painstaking talent hunt that earmarked three experts for the job and opting for somebody with a local background who is rated among the top 3 world coaches today, Hathurusinghe opined that he believed that ‘Sri Lanka can display more skills and that there was the necessary potential to move forward and slot the players in the right places and build the right combination giving them the necessary time to evolve. A key player preparatory factor towards fine honing modern scientific know how that Hathurusinghe themed on in announcing his plans was to assess individual player capacity skills as against opposing players. He saw his first assignment that would be against Bangladesh as a challenge. “They know how I think, and I know about them and it would be an opportunity for me,” he said while responding to a question that taking on his former charges was his job as a professional coach.
Prominence was given to a key element requiring quick fixing at Wednesday’s packed media confab at the SSC auditorium with SLC President announcing that an amendment would be made after January 7 to incorporate the head coach to the selection panel. This was necessary because currently the head coaches voice was weakened which was a setback to the team.
Delighted at the opportunity of reserving his native country as head coach following a once strained relationship that ended his services when he was assistant coach during the interim committee management, Hauthurusinghe was thankful to the Sumathipala administration for his comeback. It had arrived at the right time and he was proud to take up this challenge Listening to the SLC president and sports minister it was motivating to know that there would be no pressure from any quarters where he was very keen to do everything in his capacity to optimize player talent. He was happy with the support coaching expertise comprising very talented former players as well. He would follow the same formula applied in coaching New South Wales and Bangladesh.
The SLC President was highly appreciative of Bangladesh for agreeing to release Hathurusinghe while he also appreciated the services of intrim head coach Nic Pothas who had praiseworthily taken up the task when Graham Ford had departed. The realization of Hathurusinghe for the job was a combinative effort of the SLC executive committee that was initially entrusted to Vice President, K. Mathivanan to approach him following the wholehearted blessings of present and past players and local media personnel. Sumathipala expressed the fullest confidence in Hathurusinghe to carry forward the assignment of putting Sri Lanka cricket back on track to the highest international standards it had once basked in. He had a free hand to select his support staff for the job at hand. The media had a wrong notion that SLC interfered with selections. This had never happened. The selectors too had a free hand. SLC only sought their views on a necessary assessment priority in the national interest of the game.
Chairman of Selectors, Graham Labrooy said that Hathurusinghe had spoken to him about optimising the talent of young batting star Kusal Mendis, and accordingly Mendis would be considered to be progressively slotted back in to the team.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-