Sri Lanka news November 24, 2013

SLC may appoint an interim coach

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) may appoint an interim coach between the 2014 World Twenty20 and the 2015 World Cup, as it awaits the retirement of three senior batsmen. The committee appointed to nominate the next coach proposed this measure, among others, because there is a train of thought that while assistant coach Marvan Atapattu is capable of coaching the side in the long term, he may not have full control of the team as long as Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan are in it.

This is largely believed to be because the senior players had played alongside Atapattu for a considerable portion of his career, with Jayawardene having captained him from 2006 until his retirement in 2008. There is still a chance that Atapattu, or indeed Mark Davis, will take the reins immediately after Graham Ford's departure in late January, but the coach-nomination committee felt the need to present the board's executive committee with a number of options, given the lack of a pre-eminent candidate.

If an interim coach is appointed, he will take Sri Lanka through full tours of England and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup, in roughly one year. If SLC feels it does not have time to find an interim coach before February, Atapattu will likely step into the head coach role for Sri Lanka's ten-week stint in Bangladesh, where they will play a full tour, the Asia Cup and the World Twenty20.

This option is one of the plans the SLC's executive committee will vote on in its next meeting, scheduled for the first week of December.

The executive committee is also likely to review the present salary structure offered to foreign coaches, which compared to other countries is measly. A foreign coach is offered approximately US$ 12,000-15,000 a month in Sri Lanka, but the current market rate of a high profile coach is around US$ 25,000-30,000 or more. Last week, Australia assistant coach Steve Rixon said the pay attached to Sri Lanka's national coaching job was "embarrassing".

"The executive committee is expected to make a final call on whether to appoint a full-time head coach at the moment, or to look further than that," said SLC acting CEO Ashley de Silva. "We have given some recommendations and it is up to them to make a final decision."

Atapattu has been Sri Lanka's batting coach since 2011, and became assistant coach earlier this year. Mark Davis is part of the coaching staff at Sussex, and though he has never coached a county, or a national side, he is the highest qualified of the candidates who have applied for the job. Davis has a Level 4 certificate and he is also a graduate in sports psychology.

Appointing Atapattu until the first week of April would give SLC time to take a decision on whether they should look beyond the two candidates to find a credible foreign coach till the end of the 2015 World Cup at least. The next coach would then take over from the tour of England, which starts in mid-May next year.

Although 11 candidates responded to SLC's advertisement for a head coach, none of them had credentials to compare with past and present coaches, who had held that post and performed creditably. The sacking of former Australian cricketer and coach Geoff Marsh, and the subsequent payment of US$ 125,000 as out of court settlement following a lawsuit filed by Marsh, made other coaches wary of applying for the job.

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