Sri Lanka hire Mickey Arthur as head coach for two years

Updated December 06, 2019

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COLOMBO: Mickey Arthur (L) speaks during a press conference alongside Sri Lanka Cricket president Shammi Silva on Thursday. —AFP
COLOMBO: Mickey Arthur (L) speaks during a press conference alongside Sri Lanka Cricket president Shammi Silva on Thursday. —AFP

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s cricket board announced a major revamp on Thursday of the national team after their poor showing at the recent World Cup, confirming South African Mickey Arthur’s appointment as head coach on a two-year term.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) secretary Mohan de Silva said the country had been without a proper coach since the early World Cup exit.

“We are very pleased to obtain the services of Mickey and hope his experience in Asia will help build our team to a very high standard,” de Silva told reporters in Colombo a day after hiring the 51-year-old. “He’s a well-known personality who has been the head coach of a number of countries.”

Arthur — who previously coached South Africa, Australia and Pakistan — said he had his first interaction with players on Thursday and was impressed with the level of talent.

“I looked at the talent and that is the key motivating factor,” he said. “The amount of talent they have is great, but it is teaching them how to use that talent and when to use it.”

Former Zimbabwe Test player Grant Flower was appointed the new national batting coach, Australian David Saker was made bowling coach while Shane McDermott was placed in charge of fielding training.

The board did not discuss the terms of their two-year contracts, but the latest appointments effectively end head coach Chandika Hathurusingha’s controversial role with the team.

The board would not say what they plan to do with Hathurusingha who has refused to step down despite being sidelined since August.

An announcement about Hathurusingha, whose contracts runs for another year, will be made within a week, the board added.

Along with his assistants, he came under fire over the team’s sixth-place finish at the World Cup before sports minister Harin Fernando also complained about Hathurusingha’s remuneration — $40,000 a month — saying it was too high.

SLC appointed former fast bowler Rumesh Ratnayake as interim coach in August after a fallout with head coach Chandika Hathurusingha, who was criticised for Sri Lanka’s exit at the group stage of the 50-over World Cup in England.

SLC President Shammi Silva said Hathurusingha was no longer on the payroll of the board but did not provide further details.

Arthur was recently released from his short-term Twenty20 contract with New Zealand side Central Districts.

He took charge of a mercurial Pakistan side in 2016 and led them to the 2017 Champions Trophy victory in the 50-over format and the number one ranking in the world in both Tests and Twenty20 Internationals.

Pakistan, however, decided not to renew Arthur’s contract following the team’s failure to reach the semi-finals of this year’s World Cup.

“It had been three very good years with Pakistan and I needed a little bit of time away. The Sri Lankan job became available and I started discussions,” Arthur said. “I looked at the talent that’s available and that’s the key motivating factor ... to help these young players fulfil their potential.”

In his first assignment as Sri Lanka coach, Arthur will return to Pakistan this month for the two-match Test series, starting from Dec 11.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019