Indian Cricket League May 1, 2009

Atapattu eyes international coach's role

Marvan Atapattu is aiming to build a new career as international coach if Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) lifts its sanctions on the country's ICL players on the lines of the BCCI's amnesty offer. SLC has said it is yet to discuss the ICL issue, but is keen to welcome the cricketers back into the system.

Atapattu plays for Delhi Giants in the ICL and recently completed a stint as batting coach of Canada, subsequently helping them qualify for the 2011 World Cup. The former Sri Lanka captain, who expects SLC to take a decision on its ICL players that benefits cricket, said it should now look at appointing a Sri Lankan as national coach.

Nishantha Ranatunga, the SLC secretary, indicated the board would take a decision on the ICL issue soon. "We feel that these cricketers should be taken back into the system because they have a wealth of experience and knowledge," Ranatunga told Cricinfo. "They would be very useful to the country in a coaching capacity or even as administrators. We are taking the issue very seriously and will discuss the matter soon before formulating a policy."

Atapattu, who retired from international cricket two years ago, admitted that his playing days are nearly over and any such official move would give him more options to enhance his coaching credentials. "I am 39 years old and not really keen to play competitive cricket, though I'm fit enough," he said. "My priorities are a bit different now; my first priority is my family. I don't think I will play full-time cricket again. But I am looking at a coaching option seriously."

That decision, if Atapattu has his way, will be with the SLC, which appointed Trevor Bayliss as national coach in 2007. "I firmly believe that we should have our own coaches simply because they know the players, the culture and how players come up to play in the national team," he said. "We can get expertise from outside as and when we want. But we have the quality in Sri Lanka to help and guide our own cricketers."

However, Atapattu will take a final decision on his future after consulting the ICL. "I wouldn't like to jump the gun because I haven't heard anything on this officially," he said. "I am still a contracted player with ICL, and I would like to hear from them too before I take any step."

Atapattu was among the five Sri Lankan cricketers associated with the ICL who were controversially allowed to play last year in a domestic competition by the previous SLC administration, under Arjuna Ranatunga. This decision, which went against a BCCI-backed worldwide ban on ICL cricketers, was subsequently overturned after Ranatunga was ousted as SLC chairman.

On Wednesday, the BCCI allowed Indian ICL cricketers to return to the official fold after cutting all ties with the unofficial league before May 31, when stringent ICC laws on unofficial cricket come into force. Atapattu welcomed the move but admitted that India's young ICL cricketers now face a touch choice. "Young cricketers always see themselves on the path to playing for their country. But for the older guys who will be playing short-term, it will not make much of a difference," he said.

But the ICL situation should have been sorted out long ago, he said. "It should never have led to this situation, to start with. It was basically an ego clash between individuals that led to all this. If everybody had worked together for a common cause, which is developing cricket, we wouldn't have been running into such conflicts. But what has happened has happened; hopefully, they will now help youngsters who want exposure and want to perform on the big stage. Hopefully, things will become better for them now."

Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo