Divorcing the cricket coach | Sunday Observer

Divorcing the cricket coach

So the Sri Lanka Cricket-Chandika Hathurusinha marriage has ended prematurely in divorce! Minister of Sport Harin Fernando had ordered that Hathurusinha be separated as Head Coach of the national team before the start of the Test Series between New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

Apparently from the time Hathurusinha was signed on as coach and he took strike, he did not seem to have prepared a good wicket on which to take the country’s cricket to a new high. A lot was expected from him, but apparently the wicket he was batting on turned unplayable.

Some of the cricketers did not like his style. Compartments were created among the players with some being favoured and yet others benched. His success rate was also questionable and the end was not long in coming with the country’s putrid showing in the 2019 World Cup. He also had confrontations with some of the selectors on tour.

Sports Minister Fernando is one of the few ministers to have actually played representative sport. He knows what sport is all about. And knows more also about the politics going on in sport bodies especially Sri Lanka Cricket. From the time he took this hot seat he has been receiving disturbing reports that would undermine the TRUST that the sporting public places on administrators of cricket.

Finally he had to say enough is enough and with the cry for cricket to be improved becoming deafening by the day, Fernando played the master stroke and asked SLC to move aside Hathurusinha from the pinnacle. The Minister cannot be faulted.

It must be recalled that Hathurusinha when he was doing a coaching job here earlier, had to be removed for refusing to be amenable to discipline and was bowled out by the former leggie and national captain D.S. de Silva led Interim Committee. Hathurusinha has cooked his own goose.

How a feud came into being between Mathews and Hathurusinha is inexplicable.. Hathurusinha after his success with the Bangladesh team made the cardinal mistake of thinking the world about himself and imagining that he was the be all an end all. He got into the feuding ring with Mathews whose cricketing background as player, all rounder and captain was world class.

Mathews who was leading the team by example, earning the respect and getting the best from every cricketer was suddenly thrust to the sidelines by Hathurusinha so much so that Mathews had to quit the captaincy unable to work with Hitler type ways that Hathurusinha apparently carried with him.

Angelo after a not too good World Cup, came back to the form that he is reputed for against Bangladesh and proved that he is the Shepherd boy and the ROCK that Sri Lanka cricket can lean on when things go wrong.

Angelo is determined to continue in the game till the next World Cup and he must be given all the support he needs to further his career. He is a once in a lifetime cricketer and cricketers of his calibre don’t come dime a dozen.

Sri Lanka Cricket has played a master stroke in appointing former Sri Lanka fast bowling all rounder and bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake as interim coach for the games against New Zealand. Ratnayake is not new to the game of coaching and has proved himself and under his hawk eyes and competent coaching success against the Kiwis can be expected. He must be given a free hand.

The Minister has also revamped the Ashantha de Mel led Selection Committee bowling out Brendon Kuruppu and Hemantha Wickremaratne and appointing former Peterite and Sri Lanka opening bowler Vinodhan John with another to be named later. John is not new to the committee having served earlier.

During his inter-school cricket career he formed a pace bowling terror trio with Walter Fernando and Rumesh Ratnayake and had many schoolboy batsmen ducking, weaving and running for cover with their blistering pace.

Vinodhan’s father Leo played for St .Joseph’s College in 1956 and ’57 under Keerthi Caldera when the writer began his school cricket career with the Green, White and Green school St. Benedict’s College, Kotahena as a 15-year old. It is also heartening to note that the selectors have recalled Dinesh Chandimal. Chandimal was one of the most promising right hand batsmen in the cricketing firmament and at one time was tipped to lead the country in the longer version of the game.

But a sudden blip in form – all good batsmen are known to suffer a blip in form – and it was no different with Chandimal. If he is given the all important confidence and persisted with he should get back into his lost run making wicket and start scoring. He can have confidence that the selectors will give him the lost opportunities. It need not be reiterated that class is permanent, form is temporary.

It is good to see Test cricket returning to the famous P. Sara Stadium, earlier named the Colombo Oval when Sri Lanka plays New Zealand in the Second Test starting on the 22nd. This wonderful stadium that can hold its own against the best in the word, was given step-motherly treatment and international cricket was rarely played on this picturesque venue, that can be termed the ‘holy land’ of Sri Lanka cricket.

The P. ‘Sara’ Stadium has a scoreboard that must be the envy of all other cricketing nations. It has been there from the time of the inception of the ground. It is manually operated and lasting credit to the club authorities who maintain it with great care.

It must not be forgotten that the Inaugural Test match between England and Sri Lanka was played on this ground which ended in victory for England. The P.’SARA’ Stadium must be given more games. Sri Lanka Cricket please take note.

When the Kiwis last played on this ground after having lost the First Test in Galle hit back with vengeance to beat Sri Lanka and square the series.

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