Sri Lanka Cricket’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jerome Jayaratne will be appointed as the interim coach for the New Zealand series today.
“We have scheduled a meeting of SLC officials today. We will terminate Chandika Hathurusingha’s contract with us and appoint Jerome Jayaratne as interim coach for the New Zealand series,” said SLC secretary Mohan de Silva yesterday.
The SLC had last week obtained permission from Sports Minister Harin Fernando for the current support staff headed by Chandika Hathurusingha to continue till the end of the New Zealand series giving time for SLC and Hathurusingha to reach an amicable settlement and for SLC to find a suitable successor for the role of head coach.
However it is learnt that talks with SLC and Hathurusingha has not gone off cordially as expected. SLC had wanted Hathurusingha to walk out gracefully thus safeguarding his reputation as a coach.
“But he has not been amenable at all even for discussions that’s why we have decided to terminate his services,” said De Silva. Hathurusingha was contracted with SLC for three years from December 20, 2017 and his contract expires in December, 2020.
Following Sri Lanka’s poor performance in the recently concluded World Cup in England, the Sports Minister issued a directive to Sri Lanka Cricket requesting the entire support staff including Hathurusingha to resign from their respective posts after the Bangladesh ODI series.
But SLC got permission from the Sports Minister to extend the terms of the support staff till the end of the New Zealand series.
SLC contracted Hathurusingha ‘pinching’ him from Bangladesh hoping he could do wonders with the national team. In their haste to have him contracted the previous SLC committee went to the extent of handing him wide powers including a princely sum as salary making him the most expensive coach SLC has ever had in their history.
SLC even went to the extent of making him a member of the national selection committee thereby causing a conflict of interest which led to discord within the national team between players and the coach.
When the SLC elections were delayed by court order and the administration was run by a competent authority appointed by the former Sports Minister, Hathurusingha simply ran cricket to his own whims and fancy favouring certain players despite their constant failures and thereby creating rifts within the team. This had an adverse effect on team performances and Sri Lanka cricket almost reached its nadir barely qualifying for the 2019 World Cup.
SLC managed to clip his wings to some extent when the newly elected committee removed him from the selection panel and also appointed chief selector Ashantha de Mel to manage the team for the World Cup as well as the Bangladesh series.
The continuous run of defeats and the failure to qualify for a semi-final place in the World Cup was the last straw. During his tenure as coach Hathurusingha has failed to contribute anything significant to uplift the Sri Lanka team even though in their last outing they beat Bangladesh 3-0.
Jayaratne finds himself in a familiar role as interim coach. He held that position for the home series against West Indies in 2015 and a tour to New Zealand and did a pretty decent job.
Former captain Angelo Mathews credited Sri Lanka’s resurgence against West Indies partly to the work of interim coach Jayaratne.
“As a coach Jerome’s really gelling with the guys. He’s very lighthearted but he’s very focused with the guys. He’s specialised in batting and he’s working hard with the batters. All in all he’s a very good coach and a human being so we’d like to have him around,” said Mathews.