Australia news July 7, 2013

Hathurusingha grooming three NSW spinners in SL

Chandika Hathurusingha, the assistant coach of New South Wales, has taken three potential teenage spinners - Soumil Chhibber, an offspinner who has a bowling action like Muttiah Muralitharan, and legspinners Shane Cassel and Daniel Sallens - along with Australian left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe on a 15-day coaching tour to Sri Lanka.

The four NSW spinners have been practising and playing in the ongoing SLC Under-23 tournament to gain experience of bowling in subcontinent conditions . They are also due to meet the coaches of SLC's spin bowling staff, headed by former Sri Lanka spinner Piyal Wijetunge.

Hathurusingha, who is assistant coach to Trevor Bayliss at NSW, is on a mission to help the state groom spinners for the future. "The state gets a sponsorship grant each year under the Basil Sellers Scholarship Programme and this year we thought of coming to Sri Lanka and groom some spinners giving them the subcontinent experience," he said.

Midway last season, when NSW sacked their head coach Anthony Stuart, it was Hathurusingha that the state turned towards to take them through the rest of the season.

"We won seven out of nine matches and were deprived of a place in the Sheffield Shield final by one point because we had some points deducted for a slow over rate," Hathurusingha said. He was also part of the coaching staff of Sydney Sixers when they won the Champions League T20 in 2012-13, beating South Africa's Highveld Lions in the final by 10 wickets in Johannesburg.

With Bayliss returning from coaching Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, NSW made him head coach and retained Hathurusingha as assistant coach. In the Big Bash League, where Sydney have two teams, Bayliss is coach of the Sixers and Hathurusingha coaches the Thunder.

"It's a big honour for me to coach arguably the best domestic cricket team in the world - NSW Blues," he said. "I am more settled and I am quite happy."

Following his success with the NSW teams, Hathurusingha has been appointed assistant coach to Troy Cooley of the Australian A team that is due to tour South Africa and Zimbabwe for from July 18. When asked if the chance to coach NSW was the best thing that had happened in his coaching career, Hathurusingha replied, "It was a good break but there's nothing like coaching your own national team."

Hathurusingha had been groomed to become the next head coach of Sri Lanka after Bayliss, but was unceremoniously dumped by the SLC interim committee headed by DS de Silva in early 2011, after which he left for Australia with his family.