Sri Lanka news January 22, 2012

Marsh to be replaced by Ford as coach

Sri Lanka Cricket are set to replace current coach Geoff Marsh with Graham Ford, the former South Africa coach, ESPNcricinfo has learned. The decision, which is expected to be announced after the one-day series against South Africa, is the latest by the board to revamp the set-up around the national team - the selection panel was replaced last week and it is believed the captaincy is also set to change hands.

Ford earlier this week resigned as head coach of the Dolphins, the Durban-based franchise, saying he wanted to "follow my dreams of involvement at an international level".

He will be the third coach appointed by Sri Lanka since Trevor Bayliss stepped down after leading them to the 2011 World Cup final. Marsh was appointed for two years in September, 2011 and was in charge for the tours against Pakistan and South Africa. His appointment appeared to end a period of upheaval following Bayliss' exit. Stuart Law, who was Bayliss' assistant, took over for the England tour before quitting to coach Bangladesh. Rumesh Ratnayake then took over for the home series against Australia, before Marsh's appointment.

Ford took over as coach of South Africa from Bob Woolmer in 1999 and held the position till 2001. He moved to Kent as director of cricket in 2004, and in 2006 he returned home to take charge of the Dolphins. In June 2007, he was offered the challenge of coaching India but declined. In 2009, he withdrew his name from the shortlist of candidates for the England coaching job.

Sri Lanka has come in for much criticism since reaching the World Cup final, having lost every Test and ODI series they have played since then and captain Tillakaratne Dilshan might also be replaced by Mahela Jayawardene following their poor performance in South Africa. When asked in Kimberley, on the eve of the fourth ODI, whether he would accept the job if offered, Jayawardene said, "I will have to think about it. I will need some time."

Phone calls to SLC president Upali Dharmadasa went unanswered while secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said he could not comment on the matter.

Sri Lanka have lost three and won one of the five Tests they played under Marsh's stewardship, though that win was their first ever in South Africa. They have also lost seven of the nine ODIs they have played. When he took over, Marsh had said he was keen to extend his two-year contract to help Sri Lanka win another World Cup. Instead, his term has lasted just four months.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

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