Sri Lanka news November 6, 2013

SL coach race down to Atapattu and Mark Davis

ESPNcricinfo staff

Sri Lanka have narrowed down the choices for the successor to national coach Graham Ford to two - former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu and little-known Mark Davis, who is part of Sussex's coaching staff.

An SLC release said a panel appointed by the executive committee had interviewed four candidates - three Sri Lankans and one foreigner - before reducing the number of contenders to two.

"Two candidates namely Marvan Atapattu and Mark Davis have been shortlisted for the final interview to be held in due course. The date for the final interview is yet to be finalised."

Sri Lanka A team coach Romesh Kaluwitharana and national fielding coach Ruwan Kalpage are believed to be the two applicants omitted from the final reckoning. SLC had earlier shortlisted five candidates, but Steve Rixon, who is thought have been among them, has since cooled on the prospect of coaching Sri Lanka, SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga suggested.

"The fifth shortlisted candidate didn't turn up," he said. "Probably he is not interested - he has not indicated why."

Ranatunga said Atapattu and Davis would be interviewed once more, "some time in the next 10 days to two weeks", but would not be drawn on what separated the final pair from the field of candidates beyond stating the board was "looking at various aspects". However, chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya, who is part of the committee appointed to nominate the coach, had earlier said the board would prefer a coach who would continue in the direction the team has set out on, during Ford's tenure.

Besides being one of Sri Lanka's finest openers, Atapattu, 42, has been the national team's batting coach since June 2011, before being promoted to assistant coach earlier this year. He also has coaching experience with Canada and Singapore.

Davis, 42, began his 15-year playing career with South Africa's Northern Transvaal province and ended in 2005 after five seasons at Sussex. Since then he has been part of the county's coaching staff.

Current coach Ford cited family reasons for his decision to not extend his contract, which expires after Sri Lanka's away Test series against Pakistan in January.

The board had initially received 11 applications for the role, but SLC then attempted to woo other candidates which it believed would be well-suited to the job. Former India coach Greg Chappell and former Australia coach Tim Nielsen both fielded inquiries from SLC, but did not pursue the role, citing family reasons.