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Bangladesh cricket welcomes Chandika Hathurusingha as its new coach

Chandika Haturusingha - The new coach of the Bangladesh cricket team
Chandika Hathurusingha – The new coach of Bangladesh cricket team

Finally, the debate is over. Finally, the BCB have ended the waiting game. Finally, the Bangladesh cricket team have a new coach.

After a lot of speculation, the BCB have appointed former Sri Lankan batsman Chandika Hathurusinghe as the new coach. He left his job as the assistant coach of New South Wales and coach of Sydney Thunders, after being appointed as the Tigers head coach and will arrive in Dhaka by June 10. This will be Hathurusingha’s first stint as the head coach of an international side and above all, a Test playing nation.

The Bangladeshis know little about Haturusingha and for which they still are thinking whether the BCB have chosen the right person as coach. Some people have already started to criticize BCB’s decision, but before criticizing someone, first of all, it’s better to have considerable knowledge about that person. 

As a cricketer Hathurusingha showed a lot of promise. He was an opening batsman whose style was compact and had a variety of strokes under his repertoire. Until the emergence of Sanath Jayasuriya, he forged a very formidable opening pair with Roshan Mahanama. Moreover, he was a medium pacer who could move the ball through the air and had the habit of picking up crucial wickets. He did well in his first series against New Zealand, but it was overshadowed by some serious lean-patches thereafter. His career didn’t progress the way it was expected.

He played his last Test match and ODI in 1999 and was never picked for the national squad again. Hathurusingha retired from first-class cricket in 2004-05 and focused on developing himself as a cricket coach.

He was first appointed as the coach of United Arab Emirates in December 2005 on a one-year contract and after the end of that contract, he was appointed as the coach of Sri Lanka A on a three-year contract. In 2009, he was appointed as the assistant to Sri Lanka’s national coach, Trevor Bayliss. But he lost his job due to disciplinary reasons as he returned from the Zimbabwe tour early to attend a coaching course in Australia.

Kumar Sangakkara, who was the Sri Lankan captain then requested the Lankan Board to reappoint Hathurusingha. In a letter to the board, Sangakkara praised Hathurusingha’s "no nonsense" approach and his "even and fair" treatment of players. Sangakkara also added that during Hathurusingha's time as Sri Lanka's assistant coach; he had, "out-worked, out-thought and out-shone the foreign coaching staff within the system".

Despite requests from Sangakkara, the Lankan Board didn’t bother to reappoint him and subsequently, Haturusingha obtained permanent residency in Australia. Hathurusingha worked as a coaching consultant for the Canadian cricket team during the ICC World Cup 2011.

In September 2011, Hathurusingha was appointed as the assistant coach of New South Wales on a two-year contract. Midway through the 2012-13 season, the senior coach Anthony Stuart was dismissed and thus, Hathurusingha was named acting coach for the remainder of the season. In the 2013-14 season, Trevor Bayliss was appointed coach of New South Wales with Hathurusingha remaining as senior assistant and also taking over from Shane Duff as coach of the Sydney Thunder at the Big Bash League.  Hathurusingha might not have been successful as a coach of the Sydney Thunders but he did well for the New South Wales.

It seems that the BCB have appointed someone who is experienced, smart and bears sound knowledge about the technical and tactical aspects of the game. But, as a coach of the Bangladesh cricket team, Haturusingha’s journey won’t be rosy.

First of all, Hathurusingha’s main task would be to ensure stability within the team, which is suffering from severe low self-esteem. Secondly, he has to be a keen follower of our domestic cricket. Thirdly, he has to be the best friend of the Tigers and Bangladesh fans as well. Without being a very friendly person, it will not be easy for him to work in Bangladesh. And finally, the Bangladesh cricket fans need to be supportive enough. Most often, we think that, such coaches bring an Aladdin’s lamp with them from where a genie will come out and change things dramatically. But it is not that easy. The fans need to be patient.    

But for all these, the BCB must ensure a healthy environment for Hathurusingha to work properly. Over the years, the BCB have been a body where time and again whims, nepotisms and dirty politics have polluted our cricket environment severely. And for which, our cricket has not progressed the way it was expected.

Personal gains and choices are preferred more than cricket’s perfect planning. The higher officials want the coach and captain to be their remote-controlled toys which at times, dents one’s self-respect and thus stagnant the desired progress.  

People like Hathurusingha need freedom while working and might not relish unnecessary interferences. The BCB must be careful about this. They need to revamp their policies and must be very supportive with Hathurusingha as people like him have no wish to become a remote-controlled toy. 

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