Friday, 28 September 2018 08:32

Who is the best “Lankaputhra” cricket coach Chandika or Jerome?

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When the Minister of Sports Faiszer Mustapha was being grilled in parliament by members of the opposition over the country’s cricketing woes last week, he was seen waxing eloquent on why the country should give every possible chance to a Lankaputhra coach to succeed. He was also seen bandying around statistics to show that Chandika Hathurusingha had a much higher win ratio than the preceding foreign coaches. This is after the ‘Daily News’ had shown that all previous successes that the Sri Lanka team achieved were under foreign coaches who focussed on coaching without getting themselves embroiled in team selections.

One can only empathize with the Minister for his limited knowledge on the subject, and his dependence on data what his secretaries and advisors are feeding him. A few simple facts that the Minister needs to be enlightened on are:

lChandika Hathurusingha is no Lankaputhra but a citizen of Australia with dual nationality. He in fact falls in to the category of migrant employment which by the way includes his entire support staff hired by the Sumathipala administration on his recommendation. Ironically, at a time when deputy ministers are actively canvassing with people to stop investing in foreign cars and postpone foreign holidays in an effort to prop up the Sri Lankan Rupee, every penny that is paid to the support staff of the Sri Lanka team exits our shores and goes against the grain of what is being advocated.

lWhat the minister has not been educated on is that another Lankaputhra coach has a pretty impressive record chalking up a win ratio of over 50% during the short tenure in which he carried out head coach duties in an interim capacity. That person is none other than Jerome Jayaratne who possessed the required knowledge and credentials. Sri Lanka achieved a 2-0 win in Tests against West Indies, a 3-0 ODI whitewash and a 1-1 success rate against the T20 World Cup 2016 winning West Indian team. His achievements in New Zealand too would have been much more impressive than what the records suggest if not for some strange on-field decision-making.

Unfortunately, he has today been confined to a desk job at SLC headquarters in the capacity of COO (newly created) with scant disregard for his core area of expertise which is cricket coaching. It was during his tenure as Head of Coaching at SLC that much of the youngsters that hold permanent places in the team were groomed and the team achieved creditable successes at ICC conducted tournaments. Ironically, the HOC duties too were entrusted to another migrant employee with no coaching credentials by the Sumathipala administration with a fashionable title of High Performance coach to boot. Should anybody be surprised at the woes SLC is facing today with several key positions at SLC being held sans credentials? The million dollar question that begs to be answered is if this caravan can carry us to success at WC 2019? We all know the talent is out there. But who is going to harness that talent and shepherd them!

Jayaratne was tasked with this responsibility by the Sidath Wettimuny interim committee when Marvan Atapattu tendered his resignation over a string of poor results. Jayaratne was parachuted over Romesh Kaluwitharana who was the serving ‘A’ team coach at the time, due to his coaching credentials. Whilst, Kaluwitharana was an extremely talented cricketer and an opening batsman, ones cricketing skills does not necessarily make one a good coach on retirement from active cricket. It is also a known fact that the interim committee had several preliminary discussions with high profile foreign coaches who had shown keen interest to takeover the position of head coach. However, with SLC elections looming on the horizon, the interim committee was of the view that it was unethical for them to hire a head coach leaving it instead for the incoming elected body. Incidentally, Jayaratne is also a thoroughbred Lankaputhra.

Decisions of this nature, and the spirit in which decisions were made holding the interest of the country paramount at all times, further demonstrates the importance of having ethical, and experienced personnel at the helm to navigate the ship, especially at a time like today when the ship has hit a hurricane threatening to break it apart. It must also be highlighted that when the Sri Lanka team progressed to finals (five in total) at several ICC conducted World Cup championships (2007-2014) it was under the stewardship of interim committees.

These facts are being laid out for the Sports Minister to make learned decisions in the best interest of the country when navigating the stormy waters he is confronted with at present especially where the most popular game in the island cricket is concerned.

(Daily News)

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