By Shehan Daniel in Leeds
Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha yesterday said he was not paying attention to rumours of his future in the role, adding that he already had Sri Lanka’s next international assignment in mind.
Sri Lanka’s final position in the World Cup points table will be known after their last group match against India on Saturday, where victory could see them finish in fifth place while defeat could see them fall to seventh when all first-round matches are completed.
Hathurusingha said he was disappointed with missing out on the semi-finals saying he believed that Sri Lanka could qualify for the final four.
“I am very disappointed that we could not finish among the last four. My focus from the start was to get into the last four and take it from there. We planned a lot and a lot of things happened in between. Still, I tried to end up among the top four but that didn’t happen,” Hathurusingha said.
While finishing rest of the best would not be the worst result for Sri Lanka, considering the form that they were carrying into the tournament, this is the first time since 1999 that they have been eliminated from the first-round of the World Cup.
Given some of the performances in the tournament and selections made its lead-up, there have been suggestions that changes should be made to the cricketing set up in the wake of this early exit.
This has brought the future of Hathurusingha into question, considering the love-hate relationship Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) seems to have with him.
Highest paid coaches
Having made him one of the highest paid coaches in international cricket when he was hired in December 2017, and handing him sweeping control over the team, moves were made late last year to curb some of that authority, with even legal advice being sought by the Sports Minister on if it was possible to sack him from the role.
With an exorbitant payout required to fire Hathurusingha, SLC continued with him to the World Cup, but suggestions over his future have not gone away.
“(The future) looks okay. I don’t assume until that happens. I haven’t heard from people who matter. For me the important thing is to plan for the next series. I have already done that,” Hathurusingha said.
Sri Lanka’s next international assignment is at home to Bangladesh, although it has yet to be finalised over security concerns following the Easter Sunday bombings.
National Selection Panel
Hathurusingha was also removed from the National Selection Panel, as SLC tried to reel some of his powers as Head Coach, and selections was one of the areas that he indicated that he could not be held accountable for.
“You can be accountable when you have a say in things. You cannot be held accountable for someone else’s decision,” he said.
Hathurusingha expressed his disappointment with Kusal Mendis, the middle-order batsmen, whose lack of meaningful contributions was one of the reasons the team fail to make challenging totals.
The coach also added that the player was taking a brunt of the burden in the middle-order and only lacked the mental fortitude for that responsibility.
“You have to also understand that he is taking lot of burden for the team. We don’t have experienced batters like it was the cases in the past. The most experienced that we have is Angelo (Mathews), who is batting below him.”
“Earlier, people like Kumar (Sangakkara), Mahela (Jayawardane) and (Tillakaratne) Dilshan handled the mentally tricky period. Kusal is not matured to handle that at the moment. But I’m disappointed he is not done much,” the Head Coach said.