Former Sri Lanka cricketer and one time coach Chandika Hathurusingha officially took over as head coach of the national cricket team and announced that the role he has been asked to perform was a challenging one but one he was glad to accept.
“There is a lot of expectations but there is no pressure for me it’s all opportunities,” said Hathurusingha at his inaugural press conference arranged by Sri Lanka Cricket at their headquarters at Maitland Place yesterday.
“Looking at our team from the outside I thought it’s a great opportunity for me to come here and maximise the potential that is there. I am looking forward to that challenge and I take the challenge as an opportunity to take the team forward.
“It’s a very proud moment for me and a great opportunity to come back and serve my country as head coach. I think the time is right for me to take on that role,” he said.
Six years ago Hathurusingha was being groomed for this position when he was serving as shadow coach to the team’s then head coach Trevor Bayliss, but unfortunately the interim committee that was in place at the time under former Sri Lanka cricketer DS de Silva chucked him out on some flimsy evidence of disobeying orders.
This atrocious decision proved to be a blessing in disguise for Hathurusingha who took off with his family to Australia where he went onto make a name for himself as a top class cricket coach being appointed assistant coach of the New South Wales side and also the Australian ‘A’ team. His credentials soared to such a level that when he applied for the head coach’s post, Bangladesh accepted him with open arms. Hathurusingha became the most successful coach in Bangladesh’s cricket history during his three-year stint with them taking them to heights the national team had never attained before. Under his guidance Bangladesh recorded 20 ODI wins in 37 matches, 5 wins in 17 Tests (8 losses) and 9 wins in 25 T20Is (11 losses). At the same time he came to be regarded as one of the top notch coaches going around in world cricket today.
WORLD CLASS COACH
To obtain the services of such a qualified person to serve the Sri Lanka team, Sri Lanka Cricket should be greatly privileged.
“We have deployed the best possible head coach in the world now its upto the team to show results,” said Sri Lanka Cricket president Thilanga Sumathipala.
“We looked at who should be the ideal coach. We looked at the current game and found it was highly technical as well as the coaches are working based on scientific evidence and they are all using soft logic more on technology than technical assistance,” explained Sumathipala.
“At the end of the day they come down to scientific evidence. In that context we found that Hathuru is among the top world class coaches. He is always one person who believes in deployment of technology and using technology for the best interest of the national team.
“We are happy to have contracted with a world class coach for the national team. Hathuru is a matured coach and highly qualified to tackle the kind of players we have. More than anything he is a Sri Lankan and you can’t get anyone better than that. He can speak the language of the players which is another big advantage. He is also a world class player as well, a coach and manager. It’s all these attributes that is strength for us to make the maximum use of him,” he said.
Speaking further Sumathipala said that when SLC informed the Bangladesh Cricket Board that they would like to engage Hathurusingha as their head coach and although the BCB was not happy with the decision they however agreed to release him “in good faith and wished us luck”.
According to the SLC president Hathurusingha will be responsible to the SLC and as head coach he will have his own technical team and support staff that will be under his purview.
“The head coach will be responsible for their entire work. He will also play a big role in the development programs of Sri Lanka cricket and also work with the high performance centre etc,” said Sumathipala.
“As our current constitution does not provide as per the Sports Law a coach being engaged as a selector we have discussed it with the Sports Minister. He has given us a solution to incorporate him on tours together with our cricket manager and captain,” he said.
The SLC president also took the opportunity to thank Nick Pothas who had been looking after the team over the last few months as interim coach. “He had a tough task especially as India is the world’s number one Test team. So in such a difficult situation, I thank Mr. Pothas who did a tough job as the interim coach.”
CRICKET IS SECOND RELIGION
Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera who was also present at the media conference said that the entire Sri Lankan community has been waiting for this moment.
“The reason for that is cricket is like a second religion. No matter what other sport we play if we lose at cricket it becomes a major talking point in the country,” said the Minister. “As Sports Minister I have also faced a lot of questions from the public about the poor performances of the team. Losing matches is not a downfall as some make it out to be. I am very happy to note that Sri Lanka Cricket and its president has taken a good decision in appointing Hathurusingha as head coach. I wish Hathurusingha well and hope that he can restore the expectations of the country’s numerous cricket fans by putting the team on a winning trend.”
Hathurusingha’s first assignment with the national team will be against the team he last coached Bangladesh when Sri Lanka tours there next month for a tri-nation series that also involves Zimbabwe, a series of two Tests and two T20 internationals.
“It’s a challenge. I know their strengths and weaknesses and likewise they know how I think of the game. It’s a good opportunity as coach to have such a challenge ahead of you,” said Hathurusingha.