Hashan Tillakaratne to be sacked as Sri Lanka U19 Coach?

Written by Sumit Seth

Even after having a Starstudded squad and a full strength support staff, Sri Lanka U19 team performed below par in the ongoing World Cup in South Africa, largely due to lack of vision of head coach Hashan Tillakaratne, manager Farveez Maharoof and selector on tour Vinothen John. So, will Hashan Tillakaratne also be sacked like his predecessors?

Sri Lanka U19 team, in the supervision of highly-rated coach Hashan Tillakaratne, ended it’s World Cup campaign on a disappointing note after suffering a humiliating defeat against England in the plate final on Monday. After being embarrassingly knocked out from the first round of the main competition, the team managed to beat Nigeria in the plate quarter final and Scotland in the semi final. However, against a far superior England, the team surrendered meekly, as Hashan Tillakaratne’s World Cup campaign ended in a hopeless manner, as it was widely anticipated.

So, after an underwhelming world cup, where team managed to secure 10th place, the most obvious question is: will Tillakaratne also be sacked like his predecessors?

Even after all the self created hype and many branding attempts in the last two years, Hashan has nothing to show as for as results are concerned, except for the tri-series win in West Indies recently.

Moreover, his several strategic decisions during the world cup raises questions over his ability as a coach. Dashing top order batsman Ahan Wickramasinghe was considered to be Sri Lanka’s best bet at Under-19 level in recent times. Despite his heroics leading up to the tournament, he was left out of the playing XI for the first game against India and the chaos continued in the Lankan camp when the team management decided to send him at No.8 in the must- win game against New Zealand. This one big blunder of Hashan itself gives an indication of his decision making ability.

The question of his sacking is obvious for another reason. Over the years, the Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC) has gained the reputation for sacking coaches and support staff after World Cup debacles. In 2016, then head coach Roger Wijesuriya couldn’t save his job, even though Sri Lanka U19 team had reached in the semi final. In 2018, former Sri Lanka player Roy Dias was also removed, even after winning the plate championship. Moreover, just few months ago, SLC didn’t hesitate to sack national team head coach Chandika Hathurusingha, after an underwhelming World Cup in England!

In comparison, Hashan’s World Cup campaign turned out more embarrassing and disastrous, due to multiple reasons.

First, for it’s part, Shammi Silva led administration had provided everything to Hashan, whatever was needed for a successful World Cup campaign. First time in Sri Lanka cricket history, U19 team participated in the World Cup with a full strength coaching staff, consisting of fast bowling coach, spin bowling coach, trainer, physio, manager cum junior selector, computer analyst, senior selector, school representative. In addition, SLC also sent two more officials – Vice president (School) Oshara Panditharatne and School cricket association treasurer Nihal Fernando – on its own expenses just for providing moral support to coaching staff and team in the South Africa.

Second, the SLC had last year itself appointed a 9-members junior selection committee for the U19 team, organised plenty of overseas tours and provided best practice facilities.

Sadly, even after SLC’s all these efforts, Hashan turned out an epic disaster as a head coach, with his inability to supervise things in a global tournament!

The track record of SLC in handling coaches after below par World Cup campaigns over the years suggests that Hashan could also be sacked. Next couple of days will definitely provide an answer of how SLC deals with a politically powerful Hashan Tillakaratne!

About the author

Sumit Seth