Graham Ford to coach Sri Lanka again
Graham Ford is set to begin his second stint as Sri Lanka's new head coach after Surrey announced he was leaving the county to take up the position. SLC confirmed Ford had signed on until the end of the 2019 World Cup. He will begin work with Sri Lanka on February 1.
Ford had already coached Sri Lanka for two years, beginning in early 2012. He had been linked to the Sri Lanka job since the middle of 2015, but had declined to resume the role ahead of the SLC election - and hence change of administration - in January.
His appointment will end a five-month search for a head coach, following Marvan Atapattu's resignation from the position in early September. SLC's interim committee had approached both Ford and Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusinghe in the intervening months, but both men had had reservations about taking the job in a time of administrative upheaval.
The election of a new board in January, and the defeat of the Nishantha Ranatunga-led faction in those elections, helped pave the way for Ford's return. Ford had cited family reasons for his departure from the Sri Lanka job in 2014, but is understood to have had issues with Sri Lanka Cricket, at the time.
Ford is highly rated by Sri Lanka players, and the feeling had been mutual. He had spoken of his first stint as being "very, very special" ahead of his final Test in charge, in 2014. "I will sit at home for many years to come thinking about the great players and great people who I've worked with in Sri Lanka," Ford had said.
His reputation for being good with young players had been among the reasons the new board offered Ford the job, as the national team continues its transition following high-profile retirements. The length of Ford's contract period is also expected to bring some much-needed stability to the role. Sri Lanka have had eight head coaches - including interim appointments - since 2011.
Ford's appointment ended his two-year stint at Surrey, who were resurgent under his watch. They returned to county cricket's top tier after winning the division two title and also finished runners-up in the 50-over cup in 2015.
"We are extremely disappointed to be losing Graham Ford who has not just been an outstanding head coach but has played an integral role in the progress that we have achieved over the last two years," Surrey's director of cricket Alec Stewart said. "He has worked tirelessly with the players and his efforts can be seen in their individual performances and the team's results, culminating in promotion back to the first division."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando