Sri Lanka news December 7, 2010

Former SL shadow coach Hathurusingha to emigrate to Australia

Chandika Hathurusingha, the former Sri Lanka Test opener and one-time shadow coach of the Sri Lanka team, who was suspended by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) on disciplinary grounds in June, has decided to emigrate to Australia with his family, after he was found guilty by an inquiry and expelled.

The decision to suspend Hathurusingha was taken after he had disobeyed orders from SLC chairman DS de Silva, in a telephone conversation, to not abandon the team and return home ahead of the one-day tri-series final in Harare, where Sri Lanka was scheduled to take on Zimbabwe.

However, at the inquiry held in connection with the incident, Hathurusingha stated that both team manager Anura Tennekoon and head coach Trevor Bayliss had permitted him to return early to take up a coaching study course in Australia.

"What I fail to understand is there was no official complaint by the manager and there was no official request for me to stay back with the team from SLC, until I left," Hathurusingha said. "I only had a verbal discussion with the chairman that's all. The decision taken by SLC to sack me came as a surprise. I never expected it because I still don't think I have done anything wrong," Hathurusingha, who is a Level 3 qualified coach in England and Australia, said.

"I had come back to Colombo to follow a study course in Australia which was approved and funded by SLC. I returned to Sri Lanka with the consent of the authority I was under at that time - the manager and the head coach, who both gave me permission. They had duly informed SLC and there was no official request from anyone for me to not return early.

"From the results you can see that my leaving early didn't affect the team because we won the final. The two coaches were there to handle the final and the one practice session. My work with the team was done prior to that. The coaching course was going to benefit not only me but SLC as well. The bond I had signed with SLC said that I had to work for three years which I was willing to do."

Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe comprehensively by nine wickets to win the one-day tri-series, which also included India.

Hathurusingha was being groomed for the assistant coach's position in the national team when he was appointed shadow coach in 2009 as understudy to head coach Trevor Bayliss and assistant coach Stuart Law. Hathurusingha was appointed shadow coach at the same time Kumar Sangakkara was elevated to captain his country. He served in the capacity for one and half years (his contract was till the 2011 World Cup) before his sudden exit. During that period Hathurusingha played an integral part in the players' development. Although he was asked by Bayliss to look after the batting, plan for the opposition and formulate game plans, he also played a big role in the players' mental make-up which has made them become successful cricketers at international level.

Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, also personally wrote to SLC requesting a lenient punishment for Hathurusingha considering his value to the team especially ahead of the World Cup.

Hathurusingha represented Sri Lanka first as an opening batsman and later, in the middle-order from 1991 to 1999, in 26 Tests and 35 ODIs. He was head coach of UAE for a year and also coached the Sri Lanka 'A' team before his appointment as shadow coach in the national side.