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.
"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