New SL coach should continue Ford's work, says Jayasuriya
Sri Lanka Cricket would prefer a coach who is willing to continue the work Graham Ford has begun, rather than begin afresh, said coach-selection committee member and head selector Sanath Jayasuriya. Ford had decided to step down as national coach when his contract expired in January 2014.
The board has received 11 applications but is intent on casting a wider net and has also reached out to candidates it believes to be well-suited to the job. Former India coach Greg Chappell is among those who were approached by the board but he is understood to have declined, citing family reasons.
Sri Lanka's selectors have made blooding youth their priority in 2013, in anticipation of several high-profile retirements, and Jayasuriya said the incoming coach should commit to the long-term strategy Sri Lanka have already devised.
"We've got a few youngsters in the team and that is how it is going to be for the next few years," Jayasuriya said. "We need someone who can work hard with the youngsters and push them to achieve better results. The person that comes in has to really be willing to work hard in the right way and understand how to motivate these players."
Ford, in his 20 months with the team, has earned a reputation as one of the most industrious coaches Sri Lanka has had. He has also been credited by the senior players in particular for spurring development in their cricket. SLC had unsuccessfully attempted to persuade Ford to stay in the job after he had initially announced his decision to leave, and Jayasuriya said the new coach would ideally have Ford's vision and enterprise.
"Graham works very hard with each and every player on their game, and we need someone with exactly that kind of commitment. He has done some really good work with the youngsters."
Jayasuriya also said the new coach should "understand Sri Lankan culture", with an increasing number of cricketers now hailing from outside the urban centres. Present assistant coach Marvan Atapattu and fielding coach Ruwan Kalpage - both of whom are understood to have applied for the job - would fit this description, as well as being familiar with Ford's work and the selector's vision for the team, but Jayasuriya stopped short of stating they held an edge over the foreign candidates.
"We are looking at the local coaches as well," he said. "We'll have to see what they do in their presentation, but they are also going to be considered."
The coach selection committee will meet at the end of October, when committee chairman Ranjit Fernando returns from Bangladesh, where he is currently commentating on the ongoing New Zealand tour. They have until Ford vacates the position at the end of January to appoint the new coach, but both Fernando and Jayasuriya expressed a desire to make the appointment as soon as possible.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here