Sri Lanka news April 25, 2014

Marvan Atapattu appointed Sri Lanka head coach


Marvan Atapattu has been named Sri Lanka's interim head coach, following the resignation of Paul Farbrace earlier this week. Ruwan Kalpage, Sri Lanka's fielding coach and former offspinner, has been appointed his assistant. The appointments were for Sri Lanka's upcoming tour of the Ireland and England as well as the home series against South Africa to follow, SLC confirmed on Friday.

Atapattu had applied for the head coach position when Graham Ford had announced he would vacate the job, and had progressed to the final round of interviews in November, before Farbrace was appointed. Atapattu has been Sri Lanka's batting coach since for three years, and had been assistant coach since March 2013.

He has earned a reputation for his technical acumen - as a coach, as he had been as a player - but he was deemed unready for head coach role late last year. Both Farbrace and Ford, however, have publicly lauded his work ethic.

The appointments had been made on the recommendations of a three-man coach selection committee, which consists of chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya, head of coaching Jerome Jayaratne, and cricket committee chairman Ranjit Fernando. In the days following Farbrace's departure Jayasuriya had issued strong signals Atapattu would be named interim coach, as the fast-approaching tour did not allow SLC enough time to make a more permanent appointment.

"We should look to give responsibility to Marvan, because he's been around for a few years," Jayasuriya had said. "The bowling and fielding coaches will also have to take a lot of responsibility."

Among the most difficult aspects of Atapattu's job will be devising an effective strategy against an opponent who now possesses intimate knowledge of Sri Lanka's strengths, weaknesses and team dynamics, thanks to Farbrace's appointment as England assistant coach. Sri Lanka have not won a Test in England since 2006, but this tour represents a good opportunity to improve that record, while England themselves seek to rebuild after a disastrous winter.

"Farbrace knows inside out about Sri Lanka's cricketers, and that's the biggest challenge for us," Jayasuriya said. "He knows our batsmen and bowlers from top to bottom, and what we have been discussing in the last four or five months. I hope Marvan, Ruwan, the bowling coach can do a lot of work with the senior cricketers and come out of this situation."

The ODIs in the tour are also a vital step en route to the 2015 World Cup, as Sri Lanka do not play outside Asia for six months, following that series. The team leaves the country on May 2, to play two ODIs in Dublin, before moving on to three practice matches in England.

Sri Lanka play four Tests, ten ODIs and a T20 international in their two upcoming series. The trip to England is the most important away tour in the year, before their most high-profile home-assignment, against the top-ranked Test team, begins in July.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mark on April 27, 2014, 14:57 GMT

    Yes I agree with some comments about surprise that Jayasuriya thinks Farbace knows inside out of Sri Lankan team. Farbace was only in the job for 3 months, and he was assistant coach before. Lets not forget Sri Lanka has reached the final of major tournaments before under Moody and Bayliss, Farbace and won under Whatmore. Lets get one thing straight its because of the inherent cricket talent of Sri Lankan cricketers that Sri Lanka did well the coaches more or less were in it for the ride. Its because Sri Lankan cricketers were comfortable under these foreign coaches and allowed to play their natural game and express themselves. However these coaches especially Farbace has benefited enormously from the natural cricketing talent of Sri Lanka. Talent is not something that can be coached. No doubt Sri Lanka has been very beneficial to Paul Farbace's career else he would have been a little known coach plugging away in the English County System. Sri Lanka should employ their own coaches.

  • Dummy4 on April 27, 2014, 12:18 GMT

    congratulations....mavan your colurs...

  • Dummy4 on April 27, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    I guess it is good decision to bring Attapattu on the field.

  • uch on April 27, 2014, 8:15 GMT

    I think this is a better choice than wasting money for foriegn coaches. Marvan has the oppurtunity to now show what he can do. I think the players will all support him too.

  • Vinoth on April 27, 2014, 5:58 GMT

    What's the point of having foreign coachers for us? We have quality heroes like Marvan, Vassi, Sana, Kalu, Murali and many more. We would have done this long time ago. I'm glad that we finally did it.

  • Manoj on April 27, 2014, 1:18 GMT

    I always thought a foreign coach is always a must for SL. Now that Marvan has got the opportunity i am sure he will prove his mantle as a good coach and worth trying him out. The English tour results will be evaluated against his performance as a head coach.He has gone through Ford and Farbrace and also as a player with Whatmore,Moody,Yardley and CO so should be good

  • Dinker on April 26, 2014, 19:28 GMT

    SL cricket like Pak Cricket and BCCI (India) is in freefall.All three boards need to rethink and modernize.

  • Kepili on April 26, 2014, 16:03 GMT

    Being openers during their time, Marvan & Jaya should be able to recognize the immediate need of an experienced, technically sound young opener to partner Dilshan right now & carry forward to the future with Thiri (when the imminent triple blow strikes in near future)! As we have seen in many occasions during the past year, virtually Sanga had to do the openers role on every fast track! The gate was opened within the first few overs due to lack of technicality to survive at one end. This is Kusal's record on fast tracks as an opener: 0 Runs -1 Balls v NZ -Cardiff -9/06/13- 6 R -10 B -v Eng- The Oval-13/06/13- 4 R-2 B -v Aus-The Oval -17/06/13- 4 R-10 B -v India -Cardiff -20/06/13- 2 R-1 B -v India -Port of Spain -11/07/13 Even in T20, we clearly saw what happened in the two occasions that he had to face a spinner & a rare bouncy condition in Chittagong. You cannot expect nothing more from a guy with 90% of the shots limited to just a SLOG (swing across the line to the cow corner)!

  • Charindra on April 26, 2014, 13:30 GMT

    We should give Marvan a chance to prove himself. If in about 4 months the results aren't positive or improving, maybe revert to a foreign coach. Best of luck Marvi :)

  • Dummy4 on April 26, 2014, 13:21 GMT

    Sri Lankas weakness hitherto has been the lack of mental strength,or motivation to raise their game at critical situation. That is the reason we lost three finals.Perhaps we have overcome that now.The biggest challenge to Marvan will be to sustain the levels of motivation and the development of Mental strengths of the players .Can he also raise Chandimal from the present state of lack of confidence in his ability.? He is a good player but there must be self discipline and should play the right shot at the right time

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