Sri Lanka news February 10, 2012

Marsh baffled at losing Sri Lanka job


Geoff Marsh has spoken of his disappointment at being sacked as the coach of Sri Lanka four months in to his two-year contract. Marsh guided Sri Lanka to their first Test win in South Africa in late December and he believed the team was making solid progress, but within four weeks he was told he was no longer required and he was replaced by Graham Ford.

Marsh joined Sri Lanka at a time of change: a new interim committee had been placed in charge of Sri Lanka Cricket in July, and he was made coach in September. But by November the interim committee had been dissolved, and his first encounter with the board that was elected in January was the meeting at which he was fired, a meeting in which he said he was given no reason as to the decision.

"When I got there, there was no board left and they didn't have a board until I came back from South Africa. I only had one meeting with them and that was a goodbye one," Marsh told ESPNcricinfo. "That was the disappointing thing. I was told very little. Basically they had made their decision and that was it. I'm still not sure why. That's what was said to me.

"I thought we were on the right track. One of the goals was to play well away from home and win a Test match in South Africa and better our past performances there. We started to achieve that. I have no regrets whatsoever. I enjoyed it and working with those guys was fantastic. It's just disappointing that in the four months I was there I had two tours away, so I wasn't able to get my teeth into it in Colombo and work with all the coaches there."

Marsh was especially proud of helping the side to victory in the Durban Boxing Day Test, a win that was Sri Lanka's 19th Test victory away from home and their first in South Africa, where they have lost eight of their ten Tests. The captain in that match was Tillakaratne Dilshan, a man who like Marsh has also moved on from the leadership in the meantime.

Marsh said he sympathised with Dilshan, who was handed the captaincy after Kumar Sangakkara stood down following last year's World Cup. However, Marsh said he believed Mahela Jayawardene was the best man to take Sri Lanka forward, which would also allow Dilshan to focus solely on his own performance.

"On the field, no one gives more than what Dilshan does," Marsh said. "He's on 20 runs before he goes out and bats because he's such a magnificent fielder. But at the end of the day, every country needs to have the best captain and the best captain in Sri Lanka is Mahela Jayawardene and I think everybody knows that.

"When I got there, there was no board left and they didn't have a board until I came back from South Africa. I only had one meeting with them and that was a goodbye one"

"Dilshan tried very, very hard to get it right. The way he plays his cricket is to get out there and be positive and play his strokes. I think what happened to Dilshan was very sad. He was put into a position and then taken out very quickly and I think it was a tough period for him as well.

"But I think Jayawardene is known throughout the world as being one of the best leaders in world cricket, so he's the right man to go forward. There's no greater example [to the younger players] than Jayawardene and Sangakkara. They're just totally professional people. When Mahela Jayawardene talks in a team meeting you can hear a pin drop, he's held in such high esteem.

"They're very good leaders. Everyone follows their example and the way that they train. Sangakkara puts the pads on at the start of training and doesn't take them off until the end. If there's half a net available he'll go in there and work on his game. The thing about Sangakkara is his total concentration and focus when he practises."

Marsh has seen the Sri Lankans again over the past few days while they were in Perth, his home city, for their two ODIs against India and Australia. And while that might have served as a reminder of what could have been, he said he was keen to move on to other projects, including the possibility of further coaching down the track.

"It's a strange feeling having the boys down there training at the WACA and you feel as though you've slept in," he said. "It's really disappointing but you've got to move on. That's the unfortunate decision that they made. It's disappointing that when you start something and you're in it for such a short period and you can see improvement, that it's ended this way.

"But I was really pleased with what I did over there and the areas we were moving in and I wouldn't rule out coaching again."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    I feel the SLC was wrong in the 1st place recruiting Geoff Marsh as his two sons are present Internationals for OZ and if I am not mistaken he coaches an IPL side Poona worriers. There were mixed priorities. But Geoff Marsh is a Good Guy. Mistake is Sri Lanka's.

  • Andrew on February 13, 2012, 0:23 GMT

    Given Marsh got the chop after 4mths, I think Ford should not be making any permanent plans after March!!!!!!!!

  • Roger on February 13, 2012, 0:22 GMT

    While it was quite odd how it happened I wouldn't feel too bad for him. They would have had to pay him out his 2yr contract. Money for jam... And to be honest, Swampy is a great bloke but a rubbish coach. Thats what 'they' say anyway.

  • Dummy4 on February 12, 2012, 20:06 GMT

    All the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put Sri lanka back together again! Doesn't matter who captains, who opens, who bats in the middle and who SL's bowlers are. They have proved in SA and England that they are now a sub standard below par team with limited bowling quality and poor batsmenship. Dilshan, Sanga, Jayawardene all have inflated batting averages due to their love of ploughing their own home turf. The only man in that team that is high class is Samaweera. He's a proper test cricketer. Chandimal and Mathewsl reminds me of Sri Lanka in the early 80s. They are young, raw and plays unauthordox. He'll score a bit here and there but in a year or two he will be forgotten about.

  • Philip on February 12, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    Marsh was the innocent scapegoat for the failures of the team, the management and the administration. How he was asked to go is beggars belief. He inherited a team that had already lost in England and was heading down anyway. He should have been given a run with the new board and the experienced captain in Mahela. Marsh should not have been asked to go. Big mistake by the board and an embarrassment for all cricket lovers in the manner he has been treated. Philip Gnana, Surrey

  • Nishantha on February 12, 2012, 15:48 GMT

    Hey fist I didnt like u .. becose of the incident with the pakistan tour .. but sense then I thought u had done so well... with the test win and to win 2 ODI chasing over 300 in SA was great... I thought things was starting to get right and everybody was settling down with there work that time .. and its so sad it had to end as this... and its not a surprise becose we all know the cricket board of SL is no better then card board .wats visible today shows wat the hell they have been doing in the past and same Idiots are back ... but the game we love it dyeing in there hands.

  • Tharindu on February 12, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    Dear Geoff, Sri Lankan fans really love you and believe that you did a fantastic job during that short period. I don't want to talk anything about our cricket board because no point of wasting our precious time to talk about them.They are exposed to the whole world and has become a laughing stock of the world and they deserve it big time....Really sorry for what happened and fans know that how valuable person you are. Thank you very much !

  • Ryan on February 12, 2012, 6:48 GMT

    WOW! This guy achieved what no other coach has before...a Test win in South Africa. Also if you told me before the ODI series that SL would lose 3-2 I would have that SL would do well to win 2 games. Another poor decision by SLC in a long line of poor decisions.

  • Dummy4 on February 12, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    I wish ex Aussie players and coaches realise that SL, India and Pakistan do this often, Stay away from coaching those cricket sides they do not like discipline, hard work and the like, It shows on and off the field how lazy and what lack of tolerance they have.

  • Harris on February 12, 2012, 0:56 GMT

    True embarrassment for Sri Lankans!

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