'Pay for SL job embarrassing' - Rixon
Steve Rixon, Australia's assistant coach, has said the remuneration Sri Lanka Cricket offered when they approached him for the job of the national team's coach was "embarrassing", considering the position.
Though he had not formally applied, Rixon was among the men the board approached after they were underwhelmed by the 11 applications they had received for the role. Rixon is highly rated internationally and within the Sri Lanka team, having coached New Zealand as well as domestic teams in Australia and teams in the Indian Cricket League and the Indian Premier League.
Former international coaches Greg Chappell and Tim Nielsen were also approached by SLC but, like Rixon, had declined.
"Sri Lanka Cricket sent me a contract which was really embarrassing, I have to say, because it was so poor," Rixon said. "I'm the assistant coach of Australia, and I get more staying with that job than on the contract they sent through. It was really quite embarrassing for an international coach.
"In the end I just texted back several times and said, 'Look, we're talking massive differences in the job package, and I'm not here to debate it with anyone, but where I would be coming from is a lot bigger than what Sri Lanka can afford.' I was looking forward to sitting down and talking to someone, but no one's really given me that respect I suppose, to be able to do that. And I said no, I'm not really interested."
SLC had evaluated its candidates through a series of interviews and presentations, but Rixon had been perturbed by the request to travel to Sri Lanka for an interview, and by the board's sporadic communication with him.
"Don't expect me to come running over there to do an interview. Interviews are a waste of time. You either want someone, and you know that, or you don't," Rixon said. "I've been around first-class cricket for 20-odd years as a coach. I played for 15 years as a player. It's not as if I'm unknown. I think they'd know what I can and can't do without sitting me down in front of a group of people. It was a bit disappointing the way it was processed, and in the end I thought it's not the way to go."
Rixon said his initial interest in the job was borne from his affinity for Sri Lanka over several years of observing the team. However, while insufficient pay drove his decision to decline the job, SLC's sudden sacking of Geoff Marsh in 2012 and the board's reputation had contributed to it.
"What happened with Geoff Marsh would have been one of the things that played on my mind," Rixon said. "I've also talked to a lot of Sri Lankan players and the fact that they don't get paid when they're meant to be paid. The administration has had their share of controversies, and a number of things.
"But to be honest, Sri Lanka was always one place that intrigued me. I liked Sri Lanka and I think the country is lovely and, of all the Asian countries, it's by far the one that appeals to me the most. With the sort of people that you were dealing with around ten years ago, I thought they were good people and it did interest me. I did think about moving to Sri Lanka, but the harsh reality is you don't have enough money in the set-up."
The only foreign coach that remains on SLC's two-man shortlist is Mark Davis, a little-known coach who is currently among the staff at Sussex. Rixon suggested the pay attached to the Sri Lanka role would only appeal to coaches on the make.
"If you want to get a coach who is a career coach and just making his way, and that sort of thing, no problems, you might get someone for that," he said. "But you're not going to get someone who's been around and coached internationally, and coached all over the world, unless you're prepared to pay a reasonable dollar. You're making a big sacrifice to go live in Sri Lanka, and to turn your life on its head. To do that, you really need to have a package that's certainly acceptable."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here