Saádi Thawfeeq, in Daily News, 29 December 2017
The Sri Lankan cricketers got a taste of what lay ahead of them if they don’t fall in line with Chandika Hathurusingha at the inaugural practice session they had with their new head coach at the R Premadasa Stadium yesterday. Hathurusingha’s no-nonsense approach has made him one of the most successful, respected and most sought after cricket coaches in the world today and he believes he has arrived at the right time to put Sri Lanka cricket back on the right track to success.
“I am very satisfied to come back. I think it is the right time. I am really keen to come at this point and share my knowledge,” Hathurusingha told the media at the end of practice yesterday. “I am pretty confident that we can do better. There’s lots of talent in this squad and that excites me. That is what encouraged me to take up this position. I am one hundred percent sure that we can get better,” he said.
Kusal Mendis is one of the cricketers that have excited Hathurusingha because of the exceptional talent he possesses.
“The 176 he scored against Australia was a stunning knock. Then again to score that 190 against Bangladesh he showed that he is capable of playing big knocks and batting for long hours,” said Hathurusingha. “Not just Kusal, there are many other talented players that excites me. That is why I said that taking this assignment was because of the talent they have.”
Looking at the team’s performances from the outside Hathurusingha said, “There are quite a few things we are not doing right and that is why we are in this situation today. No doubt about the skill. There are so many cricketers that I can see who can be one of the top five players in the world. If they are not doing justice to their talent that means that a lot of things are going wrong.
“I want to change the way they are approaching training. That is somewhere we can make a big impact. To build their confidence, we need to change the environment, how we train and how we communicate the amount of information going in and out. Those are the things that we need to work on quickly. I am really impressed with the enthusiasm they have shown. They are open for the suggestions that I am making. They were showing a lot of keenness,” he said.
When it was pointed out by one of the media men that some players were not focused enough in their game, Hathurusingha replied, “In future it is not going to happen. If someone wants to listen to music during training, he can pack his bags and go home. I can’t talk on what happened in the past, I don’t want to assume things. But I will get a first hand feel of what is going on. I have told them that preparation is the key. If we prepare well we are giving ourselves a good chance to do well.”
FOCUSING ON BASICS
Explaining the first day’s training Hathurusingha said, “We were really focussing on our basics. We had four stations. One area we worked on playing spin, fast bowlers were doing spot bowling today and working on their stock ball. I was working with the batsmen trying to hit boundaries and trying to find out what their strengths are and giving them the freedom to express themselves. That is what we were doing and we will continue to do that over the next two days.”
Prior to the practice session Hathurusingha had a chat with the players and he asked them whether they knew what they were doing? “We need to know what we are doing to get better. We need to do things consciously. Have a plan what’s to be done and getting the best out every day. That is what I told that I am trying to do the basics first and then improve. There are a lot of positives and negatives. This is not the right forum to talk about it. I don’t talk of negatives to the media.”
Hathurusingha’s first assignment as coach is taking the team to Bangladesh, the team he last coached, for a tri-one-day series, a series of two Tests and two T20 internationals.
“It generates a lot of interest as I am going back to Bangladesh. It’s going to be a challenge. We are not performing to our capabilities and Bangladesh is strong at home the last two years. It’s a massive challenge for us. Zimbabwe the other team is on the way up. I know those two coaches who were under me. They are very capable. I expect a good competition,” said Hathurusingha.
“My challenge is not only Bangladesh, but we have to look at the larger picture. My challenge is to make most of the talent of this team. My target is the World Cup in white ball cricket. In red ball cricket my challenge is the next series. We pick sides accordingly. We need to identify players for the World Cup.”
Explaining why he didn’t want the Sri Lanka ODI squad to play in the ongoing Premier league cricket, Hathurusingha said, “The only reason is that our domestic cricket at the moment is three days and we are playing with a red ball. I have only 12 days before we go on tour. Preparation is the key and when you train with red ball it is not ideal for white ball cricket.”
MALINGA’S PRESENCE AT PRACTICE
Sri Lanka fast bowler Lasith Malinga was a surprise visitor to the practice sessions yesterday. Malinga who has not been selected in preliminary ODI squad to Bangladesh was seen bowling at practice.
“You need to ask the selectors why he is there. He showed up today because there were no matches for NCC. He is coming tomorrow too. Anyone can come. He showed a lot of enthusiasm. I am happy with that. That is a good sign and sends a good message to other players as well,” said Hathurusingha who intends using the knowledge and skills of past Lankan cricketers to fine tune the players.
“Sangakkara has been a fine cricketer. His comments helped me when I went to Australia to get my footing. I will continue to get his expertise. I will invite him to help us. If I don’t get him in I am doing a disservice. Not only him, I will also get Mahela (Jayawardene) and Murali to work with me on different occasions. We will see whether they have the time,” Hathurusingha said.