No matter else you would possibly say about Chandika Hathurusingha, the person doesn’t do incognito. When you have paid him any consideration over the previous few years, likelihood is you will have an opinion. Greater than possible, it’s mighty sharp.
“He has nice cricket data,” is one thing folks say of him. Properly that one, virtually all people can agree on. However what about: “He is a good coach”? This isn’t so universally held.
If you’re a Hathurusingha hater, you most likely hail from Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. His tenure at New South Wales didn’t appear to immediate such polarising opinions. In a lot greater profile roles in South Asia, although, the place sports activities meld with politics, and cricket performs a task within the nationwide wellbeing (extra true for some South Asian states than others), he has been an unapologetic ruffler of feathers.
A month into his job, in Bangladesh, the famous person within the group, Shakib Al Hasan, was suspended for some months for “critical misbehaviour” with the coach. In Sri Lanka, Hathurusingha was a part of a choice to sack Angelo Mathews as captain, and axe him from the limited-overs sides totally over health points final September. It was the choice committee, then headed by Graeme Labrooy, that finalised that decision, however months later, Mathews’ relationship with Hathurusingha had soured to the extent that in the middle of batting a whole Check-match day in Wellington, Mathews dropped to the bottom, accomplished a set of press-ups after and gestured pointedly in direction of the dressing room. It was solely a bit extra well mannered than flipping the hen.
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And but, are you able to argue with Hathurusingha’s outcomes? On his watch, Bangladesh made the knockouts in a World Cup for the primary time, beat India and South Africa in ODI collection at residence, defeated Sri Lanka in an away Check, and made the semi-final of the 2017 Champions Trophy. Basically, they grew to become a critical drive in world cricket for the primary time. Particular gamers might have had grouses; Mahmudullah was dropped for the 100th Check – the one they gained in Colombo – and Mominul Haque was edged out of the Check facet. However for those who attempt to argue that Hathurusingha didn’t depart Bangladesh (or ought to that be abandon Bangladesh?) in an immeasurably higher place than he discovered them, then good friend, you will have let your Hathu-hate get the higher of you.
Among the many cornerstones to his success in Bangladesh, Hathurusingha felt, was his insistence that he be a part of the choice committee. “If I am liable for the fortunes of the group, I must be given the ability to decide on it,” has been his reasoning. Sri Lanka Cricket, who had virtually pleaded with Hathurusingha to be their coach for 3 years, had initially allowed him this.
Dimuth Karunaratne steers the ball into the off facet PA Photos by way of Getty Photos
However here is the factor, Hathu: SLC is an untameable beast. He had the SLC board president on-side in his first few months answerable for Sri Lanka, simply as he had performed virtually all through his Bangladesh stint. However what if the SLC head is himself so plugged into the nation’s political machinations, that the second the governmental climate modified, that SLC president was ousted by judicial writ? Late final yr, Hathurusingha misplaced his allies in administration, and with them the assure that he might have his manner with the facet. In February, following Sri Lanka’s modest tour of New Zealand and their woeful Exams in Australia, he was in critical hazard of being sacked by the governmental arm that had put in itself instead of an everyday board.
And so we come to Bristol on the World Cup, the place Hathurusingha is ostensibly head coach of Sri Lanka however, weirdly, it’s on the opposition that bears the clearer marks of his affect. Even his critics in Bangladesh would concede that it was beneath Hathurusingha that this group developed the metal required to win; that it was on his watch that they started to grab key moments, the way in which they’d performed within the victory in opposition to South Africa final week. Through the Hathu years, Tamim Iqbal had change into extra constant, Soumya Sarkar had begun to flourish, Mustafizur Rahman was thrown in and adorned, Mehidy Hasan acquired a begin, and even Mahmudullah hit these back-to-back World Cup tons.
Evaluate this to the Sri Lanka facet, which was in turmoil lengthy earlier than Hathurusingha arrived, and has not ceased to be in flux regardless of his finest efforts. Final yr, Hathurusingha had elevated Dinesh Chandimal to management, after which the selectors modified, and now Chandimal has barely been heard from for months. Captain, as an alternative, is Dimuth Karunaratne – a person Hathurusingha appears comfortable to work with particularly following the historic Check win in South Africa, however not one he would have ideally chosen for such honours. Save, maybe, for Thisara Perera, there is no such thing as a one on this ODI facet that seems visibly altered by Hathurusingha’s 18-month presence.
A very good run on the World Cup could possibly be key to altering all that. The historic Check win in South Africa, to which Hathurusingha did genuinely contribute, purchased him goodwill, however it’s limited-overs advances that may swing open the door these victories propped ajar. Sri Lanka nonetheless have Australia, England and India to play, so the match on Tuesday is nearly must-win. For the coach, a defeat is perhaps a haunting by his personal previous successes, however nothing nobody did not count on. But when a victory helps gentle up Sri Lanka’s marketing campaign, possibly the group will change to a smoother monitor. Maybe Hathurusingha might nonetheless change into the type of transformer for Sri Lanka he as soon as was for Bangladesh.