New coach considered a priority April 17, 2005

Sri Lanka hunt new coach

John Dyson: Sri Lanka's current coach © Getty Images

Sri Lanka's new cricket board will turn its attention to the recruitment of a new senior team coach next week after the recent New Zealand tour brought John Dyson's 20-month stint in charge to an end. The employment of a top-level coach is considered an urgent priority by the new six-man interim committee headed by Jayantha Dharmadasa, which was appointed by the government last month.

Dyson bade farewell to the team after the second Test in Wellington, speaking to the players individually, before returning home to Sydney. The new board have not ruled out a fresh contract and Dyson has made it clear that he is open to discussions, despite being left frustrated by the previous board's repeated refusal to clarify his future.

He first approached the chief executive Duleep Mendis before Sri Lanka's October tour of Pakistan last year to seek confirmation on whether the board wanted to extend his contract. But Mohan de Silva's executive committee was apparently divided on the issue and - despite promises that a decision would be reached prior to the New Zealand tour - the uncertainty over his future was never cleared.

Dyson told The Island newspaper that he was open to discussions: "My contract is now complete and I will return to Sydney," he said. "I don't know what is happening in Colombo and at the moment things are unresolved. From this stage on, I am free for negotiations. I enjoyed my stay and we played brilliantly at times. There is enormous talent in this Sri Lankan team and I think the future is very bright."

The new committee has confirmed to Cricinfo that they would like to now start-up fresh negotiations with Dyson about a possible extension, if he was still interested, although they will also discuss other options when they meet on Monday. They are expected to talk to skipper Marvan Atapattu and other senior players this week following their return from New Zealand to hear their views on the issue.

"The issue of the coach is now a top priority for us," Tryphon Mirando told Cricinfo. "We want to recruit someone as soon as possible and will aim to speak to as many coaches that are interested as possible before making the final decision. We will probably headhunt a coach rather than have a formal recruitment process because this is now an urgent issue."

Dav Whatmore, Sri Lanka's former coach and current coach of Bangladesh, is one big name that will definitely be discussed. Cricinfo understands that there has already been communication with Whatmore. However, Whatmore is also a contender for John Wright's replacement as India coach - although Greg Chappell and Tom Moody appear to be the current frontrunners for that post -and is expected to be offered an extension with Bangladesh.

The other high-profile name that is now being discussed is Steve Waugh, although it is unclear if he would be interested in considering a full-time international coaching assignment at this stage. The board will try to contact him this week. Even if Waugh considered the Sri Lanka job a good springboard for a new career in coaching, it is unclear whether Sri Lanka Cricket would be able to offer a sufficiently attractive financial package to clinch the deal.

Sri Lanka achieved mixed success during Dyson's tenure. They climbed the ICC's Test rankings after home series victories against England and South Africa. Away from home, they crushed Zimbabwe, drew with Pakistan and lost to Australia and New Zealand. They also climbed the ODI rankings, reaching the number two position earlier this year after New Zealand were whitewashed 5-0 by Australia.

In addition to the search for a new coach, the new interim committee also plans to resolve issues over player contracts, which expired at the end of February. The terms of the contract proposed for 2005/06 by the previous cricket board had been rejected by the players, who were concerned about possible clashes with personal endorsement deals and upset by a miserly pay increase of 5%, which is in real terms a pay cut because of inflation.