Rex Clementine, in the Island, 23 Janaury 2012 with different title: “Greats retire hurt, jokers go places” …. see END for Web editor’s comment
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has not yet explained why it decided to sack Head Coach Geoff Marsh. But, it is common knowledge he was removed due to political reasons. We are in a position to confirm that the decision to replace Marsh was taken even before the national team had lost the ODI series. The announcement from Graham Ford that he was quitting as coach in Natal to achieve his dream of coaching an international side came prior to the third ODI in Bloemfontein and the tourists had not lost the series by then.
No disrespect to Ford, who has a proven track record, but The Island learns that the new coach is a pet of certain influential elements of Sri Lankan cricket with political clout and interesting times are ahead with Sri Lanka scheduled to host country’s biggest sporting event ever; the ICC World T-20 in September.
Apparently, one reason why Ford quit in Natal was too much of politics in the cricket administration. Marsh is the fourth Sri Lankan coach to call it quits within ten months. As a popular local saying goes, SLC has been changing pillows to cure headaches. SLC owes the public an explanation. It has to tell us exactly why Marsh’s contract had to be terminated. It was the current Chairman Upali Dharmadasa, in his capacity as Chairman Interim Committee, who hired Marsh as coach of the national team and everyone was over the moon at that point because he had transformed the Aussies into an invincible side.
Marsh’s mantra for success was ‘hard work’ and you could see him put in hours and hours of work with the team in a bid to achieve perfection. It was thanks to his insistence that bowlers must contribute with the bat in ODIs that the likes of Nuwan Kulasekara and Thisara Perera made a substantial contribution in the batting department throughout the ODI series in South Africa.
Marsh is known for his quotable quotes. Here is one he came up with on the current tour: “You can’t improve one particular thing by 100% in a couple of weeks. But what you can do is to improve hundred different things by 1%. That can make a hell of a difference between winning and losing.” Sadly, Sri Lanka’s cricketers aren’t fortunate to learn more from a man who is held in high esteem and whose performance compares with that of great coaches of the calibre of John Buchanan and the late Bob Woolmer.
Don’t forget that this is Sri Lanka’s best tour of South Africa. The previous tours in 1998, 2000 and 2002 (the last two under Sanath Jayasuriya) were disastrous. The Sri Lankans never were able to adjust to the bounce on previous occasions, but on this tour despite being shot out for 43 runs in Paarl, they performed fairly well overall. It’s such a shame that Marsh had to be hauled up before the Minister of Sports before the team left for South Africa. What a comedown for an Ashes and World Cup winner, both as player and coach. Our political nincompoops seem to think that they know better than the man who helped Warne, Waugh and the Flower brothers build their careers!
The Island also can reveal that Ford met Upali Dharmadasa and his Interim Committee in August last year the day before the first Test against Australia. Ford had dinner at then Secretary Prakash Schafter’s home and agreed to take over the Sri Lankan coaching job. But barely 24 hours later declined that position. It’s not the first time that he has done that. In 2005, after agreeing to take up the coaching position of the Indian national team, he turned down the offer at the eleventh hour. So let SLC be forewarned: Graham Ford is known for his mood swings.
Web Editor: Rex Clementine was one of the few Lankan reporters on tour and had an inside view. While I myself had reservations re the choice of Dilshan as captain, it seems silly to give him such a short stint and even sillier to assess Marsh after 3-4 months in the job. It is also terrible governance for both Marsh and Tennekoon to learn that they have been shunted out of their positions before the end of their contracts through press reportage. The fault is not that of SLC alone. Sections of the media have been hypercritiical of the team’s performances without attending to the quality of the opposition (Australia, Pakistan and South Africa). The Pakstsani wins against England demonstrate my point clearly. Besides, as Clementine has noted, Sri Lanka’s tour team in the Saf world achieved what no other Sri lankan tour team has done in that part of the world. Congratulations Dilshan and guys