The Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC) is generous enough to pay whopping Six million per month salary to its national team coach Chandika Hathurasingha. However, the return of the investment is not there to justify the staggering salary package. When Hathurasingha took over as head coach in December 2017, Sri Lanka were placed at number six in ODI rankings.
Fast forward to May 2019. After the Annual Update of the ICC Rankings, Sri Lanka has dropped to the 9th place in ODIs with 76 points. This is Sri Lanka’s worst ever position in the history of ODI cricket, since the inception of the Annual Rankings system.
And, it’s not only about Rankings. Like any other cricket board, SLC also had hired Hathurusingha in 2017 to build a team for the World Cup. Now, barely four weeks before the World Cup, Sri Lanka team looks the least settled team amongst all sides!
Here are some most crucial areas, where Hathurusingha failed miserably:
Avishka Fernando’s selection in World Cup squad: When Asantha De Mel led selection committee select 20 year old Avishka Fernando as one of the opener for the world cup, it proves that Hathurasingha could not settle the openers slots in one and half year. Indeed, Avishka is Sri Lanka’s future, but even Asantha De Mel can’t say that he is ready to play in this world cup. They picked him, because they had no other option. Because, two designated openers of Hathurasingha – Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilika – proved unreliable for the mega event!
Appointment of Dimuth Karunaratne as captain: Forget about openers, Hathurusingha could not even nurture a captain for the World Cup. Angelo Mathews would have been the most obvious choice, but Hathurusingha made him a scapegoat long time ago, in order to hide One of his failure. Dinesh Chandimal was knocked out by Asantha De Mel. Then again, Lasith Malinga was snubbed by Asantha De Mel, because now, suddenly, he shares a ‘good rapport’ with Hathurusingha. But, the problem is this ‘so called good bonding’ of Asantha De Mel and Hathurusingha will not win World Cup trophy for Sri Lanka! A good experienced, skilled captain and a settled team will win! Sri Lanka has none!
Kusal Perera as wicket keeper: This is a joke! A big joke! And, it could be one of the biggest mistake of Asantha De Mel and Co. Kusal is undoubtedly the best shorter formats batsman Sri Lanka has right now! An outright match winner, Who can turn the match in few overs! But, as a wicket keeper, he is not reliable. Largely because, he is injury prone. In the big tournament like World Cup, a reliable wicket keeper is a must. That’s why, team India opted for an ordinary batsman Dinesh Karthik over an explosive young talent Rishabh Pant. Simply because, Karthik is much better wicket keeper than Rishabh Pant. In his One and half year, Hathurusingha trusted and promoted only Niroshan Dickwella. He didn’t allow any other wicket keeper to prosper. Forget this, he didn’t even try a new wicket keeper. Now, in the world cup, Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis are Sri Lanka’s wicket keepers. It’s scary!
The sudden rise of Ishuru Udana: His rise is a big slap on Hathurusingha’s face, because all these years he was blindly trusting and promoting Thisara Perera as team’s premier allrounder. Though he shined briefly in 2018, Before the World Cup, Thisara is hopelessly out of form. It was the wise move of Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister Harin Fernando, Who removed Hathurusingha as one of the selector. Otherwise, Sri Lanka would have without Ishuru Udana, simply because the million dollars paid coach believes only on his core group players.
Appointment of Steve Rixon: For one year, Hathurusingha was busy promoting his messenger Thilan Samaraweera as batting coach. As usually, he failed miserably, thus SLC had no option other than to remove him and bring back Steve Rixon. He is good, and has the experience as well, but he had no time to work on Sri Lanka’s batsmen before the World Cup. In last three years, batting has been the biggest let down for Sri Lanka. Ideally, Hathurusingha should have promoted a batting coach with proven record someone like Avishka Gunawardana. But he promoted Thilan Samaraweera!
All these are epic failures of Hathurasingha. Fortunately, the recently elected administration, led by president Shammi Silva, knows their task. Insiders at SLC says that Shammi Silva is no nonsense, straight forward and believes in ‘hire and fire‘ philosophy. Moreover, in last two months, the new administration have completely screwed Hathurusingha.
If Sri Lanka wins the world cup, then everything will be forgotten (and it must be forgotten). However, the million dollar question is: If Sri Lanka fails in world cup as well, then whether they will continue with Hathurusingha or will close his chapter?