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Hathurusinghe fired as Sri Lanka coach on eve of New Zealand series

Updated August 08, 2019

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COLOMBO: Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne (R) shakes hands with his New Zealand counterpart Kane Williamson during a media briefing ahead of their two-Test series on Wednesday.—AP
COLOMBO: Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne (R) shakes hands with his New Zealand counterpart Kane Williamson during a media briefing ahead of their two-Test series on Wednesday.—AP

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan cricket authorities on Wednesday suspended head coach Chandika Hathurusingha and appointed a temporary replacement for the upcoming New Zealand series.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) chairman Shammi Silva said former Sri Lanka fast bowler Rumesh Ratnayake was made interim coach pending a final decision on the status of Hathurusingha.

“Hathurusingha will not be involved in this [New Zealand] series,” Silva told reporters in Colombo. “We can’t tell you details because this might end up being a legal issue.”

Sports Minister Harin Fernando said this month that Hathurusingha would be given until the start of Sri Lanka’s home Test series against New Zealand, which begins on Aug 14, to quit and make way for a new coach.

“If Hathurusingha does not leave, we may have to consider legal action or offer him a different job at the board,” Fernando said at the time.

Following Sri Lanka’s disappointing World Cup, where they finished in sixth-place, Hathurusingha and his assistants were expected to be shown the door.

There was no immediate comment from Hathurusingha who had earlier said he wanted to continue in the post till his contract runs out in 16 months.

Fernando was critical of a reported $40,000 monthly salary paid to Hathurusingha and said Sri Lanka could have hired a foreign coach at half the price.

Fernando said there were three international candidates hoping to replace Hathurusingha and they were asking for lower salaries of between $17,500 and $25,000 a month.

Sri Lanka cricket was in crisis when Hathurusingha was appointed in December 2017, after a successful three-year spell in charge of Bangladesh.

They had just been hammered in Tests by India at home and away, and played poorly in One-day Internationals. Under Hathurusingha, Sri Lanka notched up Test wins against England and Australia.

The first Test against New Zealand will be played in Galle starting Aug 14, and the second will begin on Aug 22 at Colombo’s P. Sara Oval.

Three T20s will be played on Aug 31, Sept 2 and Sept 6 with all three in Pallekele.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2019