It's Hathuru 'when' rather than 'would' Hathuru

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - COMMENT - By Champika Fer­nando

Sri Lanka Cricket will soon have a full- time head coach, and with Chandika Hathu­rus­ingha re­sign­ing from the Bangladesh Cricket Board, there is op­ti­mism that the 49- year- old will land the job here.

There is no of­fi­cial in­ti­ma­tion with re­gard to his ap­point­ment but the Sun­day Times learns the lo­cal board is wait­ing for his re­lease by the cur­rent em­ployer to seal the ap­point­ment.

If all goes well, Hathu­rus­ingha should be here in time to take the team to Bangladesh—Sri Lanka’s next in­ter­na­tional as­sign­ment after the cur­rent In­dian se­ries. Last week, Sri Lanka ap­pointed Thi­lan Sa­ma­raweera as bat­ting coach, re­port­edly on Hathu­rus­ingha's rec­om­men­da­tion. Sa­ma­raweera was Bangladesh’s bat­ting con­sul­tant un­der him.

The lo­cal board is tight-lipped but con­firmed that they will ap­point Gra­ham Ford’s re­place­ment by the end of this year. They have had four can­di­dates for the job, in­clud­ing in­terim coach Nic Pothas, Ja­son Gille­spie and Ge­off Marsh. But their pre- ferred choice has been Hathu­rus­ingha, a highly-rated coach in world cricket at present.

“We can­not make any of­fi­cial com­ments as of now,” said Sri Lanka Cricket Pres­i­dent Thi­langa Su­math­ipala. “For us to con­sider him, he has to make him­self avail­able. How­ever, we are in the process of putting things in place for the na­tional team. We have got one of the best bat­ting coaches around. We also have Rumesh Rat­nayake as bowl­ing coach and we are in the process of fi­nal­is­ing our head coach. We will do it soon after the cur­rent tour."

Hathu­rus­ingha is con­tracted by BCB un­til the 2019 World Cup but SLC had been in ne­go­ti­a­tions with him since Gra­ham Ford’s exit as Sri Lanka head coach in June. It's not clear, how­ever, whether his res­ig­na­tion is di­rectly linked to the lu­cra- tive of­fer from the home board or a re­sult of a de­te­ri­o­rat­ing re­la­tion­ship with Bangladeshi play­ers and board higher-up.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports from Bangladesh, there has been some ten­sion be­tween the coach and se­nior play­ers of the team re­cently, while many are spec­u­lat­ing that the dis­tance be­tween board and coach in­creased when BCB higher- ups lately be­gan to in­ter­fere with team se­lec­tion.

Bangladesh Cricket Board Pres­i­dent Naz­mul Has­san con­firmed re­ceiv­ing a let­ter of res­ig­na­tion from the coach dur­ing their re­cent tour to South Africa. They have not ac­cepted the let­ter yet. In 2016, Hathu­rus­ingha wanted to re­sign but had con­vinced him to stay on. Re­ports say he is now ex­pected to re­turn to Bangladesh on Novem­ber 15.

Un­der Hathu­rus­ingha, Bangladesh cricket made sig­nif­i­cant strides. They reached the semi- fi­nals of this year’s Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy—their first ap­pear­ance in a semi-fi­nal of a global tour­na­ment—and also beat In­dia, South Africa. They beat Eng­land and Aus­tralia at home in Test cricket and also Sri Lanka in a Test se­ries at home to level the two-match se­ries 1-1.

Hathu­rus­inghe is one of the high­est paid coaches in world cricket and the Sun­day Times learns SLC is will­ing to of­fer him a lu­cra­tive pay pack­age, much higher than what SLC had paid pre­vi­ously, if the for­mer Sri Lanka opener is will­ing to ac­cept.

Hathu­rus­ingha was groomed to take over as head coach when he was drafted in to the na­tional team as “shadow coach” but a dis­agree­ment be­tween the then board’s in­terim com­mit­tee head DS de Silva and him saw Hathu­rus­ingha mi­grat­ing to Aus­tralia. Then na­tional team skip­per Ku­mar San­gakkara wrote a let­ter plead­ing the board to re­tain the coach given his con­tri­bu­tions to the team but no in­ter­est was taken. In Aus­tralia, he had a brief stint with the New South Wales cricket team be­fore mov­ing to Bangladesh in July 2013.

Pre­par­ing for the next move...Chandika Hathu­rus­ingha is all but set to take over reins at Sri Lanka Cricket

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