COLOMBO: Chandika Hathurusingha insisted on Monday he would remain Sri Lanka’s cricket coach despite pressure to step down after their ICC World Cup exit, but official sources said a shake-up was planned.
Sri Lanka started the tournament as outsiders and finished sixth of the nine teams, registering one of their three wins against the world’s top-ranked ODI side, hosts England.
Local media reported on Monday that Sri Lanka Sports Minister Harin Fernando was unhappy with Hathurusingha’s performance and that he would be asked to step down.
But Hathurusingha told reporters on landing back in Colombo that though he had expected better from the team, he would still see out his contract as coach.
“I have another 16 months,” Hathurusingha said. “I hope to remain until my contract runs out.”
Asked if accepted responsibility for Sri Lanka failing to qualify for the semi-finals, Hathurusingha said the entire team management should share the blame.
“All of us must accept responsibility for what happened. I think we expected better performance... We have to think. We must learn from this and move forward. I think I have done to the best of my ability.”
A top cricket official said the board expected to carry out a major overhaul of the coaching department within three months.
“We are looking at a three-month period to complete the changes,” said the official, who asked not to be named.
He said contracts of fielding coach Steve Rixon, batting coach Jon Lewis and fast bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake will be allowed to lapse and will not be renewed.
Sri Lanka lost four and won three matches at the World Cup, with two abandoned due to rain.
“If the head coach refuses to step down, we can’t force him out, but we can appoint another above him,” Fernando was quoted as saying in the mass-circulation Lankadeepa daily.
Sri Lankan cricket was in crisis when Hathurusingha was appointed in December 2017 after a successful three-year spell in charge of Bangladesh, during which he presided over Test wins against England and Australia.
Sri Lanka at the time had just been hammered in Tests by India at home and away, and had played poorly in ODIs.
Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2019