(I wrote this piece before Chandika Hathurusingha accepted the coaching role for the national team by Sri Lanka Cricket. I forgot to publish this for some reason but since I still think my arguments still stand, thought of publishing this as it is.)
Chandika Hathurusingha was a mediocre cricketer who had a comparatively longer stint with the Sri Lankan cricket team just because of the big dearth of professional players in his time than due to his talents. He had the luck of being the opening batsman with the better opener Roshan Mahanama simply because there wasn’t anyone else in the team who could be sacrificed to that position as Asanka Gurusinha, Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga had their duties down the order than at the top. It was the same about the position of the opening bowler regarding the player in question. Hathurusingha was the only available player to start bowling from the other end when the other mediocre opening fast bowler Pramodya Wickramasinghe started as the conventional opening bowler position due to more or less the same reasons given above about Hathurusingha. The latter opened with his medium-fast bowling and plucked a wicket or two on his day but mostly he just filled the place of an opening bowler till the ball was still new and shiny for the spinners.
It is not my intention to criticize Hathurusingha’s talents during his time where fame, finances and facilities were low for the players and most of them just played for the “heck of it.” It is true that Hathurusingha was an anchor during his time for the team and did his best till he was constantly defeated in the hands of legendary South African pace ace Alan Donald which paved the former the way out of the Sri Lankan team eventually. Hathurusingha had to throw the towel before he expected.
But today what we are talking is not about Hathurusingha, the cricketer but Hathurusingha, the much-hyped coach. There is no doubt he is a good coach. He has had his stints as an assistant coach to Sri Lankan cricket team and a head coach for some domestic teams in Australia. But if he thinks that he was the main reason for the then struggling Bangladesh team to mold themselves into what they are today, then he will end up with an inevitable disaster. Bangladesh was the minnows for a long time as they were christened as a Test team prematurely and the ultimate result was getting more cricket matches than they deserved and being hammered at the hands of stronger teams in all forms of the game. In the meantime, they were also lucky enough to come closer to winning in some matches of late and again mess up most of them due to lack of experiences in turning the crunch times to winning. Why I used the phrase “lucky enough” was due to luck of having the chance to come close to winning and getting the experience of “near wins” and an occasional taste of blood of winning. This is where a team starts realizing their true potential and get the confidence that they have the mettle and substance to win. When Bangladesh hired Hathurusingha, the team was more or less passing this stage and was ready to win. With or without Hathurusingha, Bangladesh had the strength to do a revolution in the game. Attributing the team’s success wholly to Hathurusingha is a big mistake done by the media and if Hathurusingha too subscribed to the same attribution, it is a grave mistake he does by risking his hitherto successful career as a coach. No doubt he was instrumental in making Bangladesh into a fighting unit but the credit goes to the players, former coaches and the management as well. (This was more or less similar to the success one of the former Sri Lankan coaches Dav Whatmore achieved under similar conditions.)
Besides, it is immaterial even if Hathurusingha is really an excellent coach elsewhere if he takes Sri Lankan coaching job. Sri Lankan cricketing arena is a completely different ball game. It doesn’t care if you are good, great or even genius. You have to submit to the cricket mafia that runs the game over here. You won’t have the freedom or the respect you enjoyed in Bangladesh or elsewhere. You will have to forget the cricketing decisions you used to make supported by the Bangladesh Cricket Board but will have to dance to the tune of the bunch of idiots that run Sri Lanka Cricket after winning the coveted Cricket World Cup in 1996. Beside all these negative factors, you will have to face the humiliation of the local cricketers who will not respect you as a coach or as an individual. You won’t be able to see “gentlemen” in the current cricketing corridors of power.
Despite all these odds, I would wish good luck to Hathurusingha (since he is gonna need lot of that) to be a good coach and take the Sri Lankan team out of its current labyrinthine mess. You will have to do this at your own risk though.