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December 24, 2012
Former Sri Lanka batsman Chandika Hathurusingha, who played 26 Tests and 35 ODIs, is pleased to be fulfilling his new role as the acting head coach of the Australian state side New South Wales (NSW).
"It came as a surprise, but it was recognition of my contribution to the NSW team since I became their assistant coach in September last year," Hathurusingha said. He took over for the rest of the current Australian season following the sacking of Anthony Stuart, who had been coach of the state since May 2011.
"It was not the ideal situation for me because I cannot do things my way as it is in the middle of the season, but nevertheless I am honoured," he said.
NSW is the among the most successful domestic cricket teams in Australia, with a rich history of many players having represented the national team. The present side includes Australia captain Michael Clarke, his deputy Shane Watson, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Brad Haddin, Doug Bollinger, Trent Copeland, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Moises Henriques, Steve Smith and state captain Stephen O'Keefe - all of whom have represented Australia at some point in their careers.
"It is a matter of prestige for a Sri Lankan to be coaching such a side. I enjoy working with them," Hathurusingha said.
Hathurusingha, whose CV includes being coach of Canada and the UAE, had at one point been thought of as a replacement for former head coach Trevor Bayliss, but he doesn't mind his current position.
"I was technical advisor to the NSW team (Sydney Sixes) during the Champions League in South Africa and when Trevor Bayliss went over to Kolkata Knight Riders, I more or less took over his position and we went on to become champions," Hathurusingha said. "Even if I don't get the job as head coach I am not worried. I am quite happy with my current position as assistant coach."
He said his chances of becoming the permanent head coach of NSW depended on the team's performances this season. They are already out of the Ryobi one-day competition and are currently lying fourth in the Sheffield Shield table.
"Many of our players are called up to play for Australia and this has affected our team performances," he said. "My job is to help them achieve their goal of playing for Australia and also to develop players from the state to go and represent the country. I am not only helping the [batsmen] but even the bowlers. The feedback from them has been very encouraging. All of them are aspiring to play for Australia and I am delighted to be of help.
"These players know how to take care of themselves individually. They are independent and once they are told something they go ahead and do it. That comes from their culture. In Sri Lanka, some of the players need to be pushed."
Hathurusingha was sacked by the previous Sri Lanka Cricket administration under DS de Silva as he had not obeyed the chairman's orders not to return early from a tour of Zimbabwe to follow a coaching course in Australia in 2011. He left for Australia with his family and took on the job as assistant coach of NSW.
"My sacking turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was disappointed the way I was asked to go. I would have loved to have coached my country but unfortunately the administrators at that time did not see it that way."
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Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge