Thilan Samaraweera reunited with an old friend on his first day as Bangladesh's batting consultant. "I divide my career into two," he said. "First it is from 2001 to 2006 when I was dropped. I became a totally different player when I met Chandika [Hathurusingha]."
Samaraweera began with a century on Test debut in 2001 but suffered a drastic dip in form five years later. When he returned to the Sri Lankan side, he averaged over 72 in 2007 and 2008 and peaked with 114.25 from six matches in 2010. Speaking to the media in Mirpur, he said he was looking forward to working with Hathrusingha, who is the Bangladesh head coach, again.
"I know what he is capable of and I would love to work with him. He gave me the freedom to express myself. He focused on the technique and mindset, the key to international cricket. I became a totally different cricketer. I think my average was close to between 50 or 60."
Samaraweera was hired by the BCB for the series against England and Afghanistan. His tenure would last 45 days and in that time he has to make sure the Bangladesh batsmen do not feel the drawbacks of not playing international cricket since the World T20 in March.
"On the first day I am a bit quiet as I want to get to know the players. There are a few newcomers. I know four to five players as I played against them. Just had a few chats here and there. After another day I will be more comfortable working with this group.
"My first priority is the Afghanistan series because I know that when you are not playing for four to five months, the international arena seems totally different than practice. I think the key is to get into the groove of international cricket. I am not worried about talent as the talent is there."
Samaraweera, who had previously worked as a batting consultant for Cricket Australia, was pleased with the amount of progress made by Bangladesh over the last year and a half.
"I think the freedom that the coaching staff led by Chandi gave to the Bangladesh players made them believe they could fight against the top teams. You can see in the last 18 months they beat Pakistan, India and South Africa and they also did well in the World Cup in different conditions. More freedom, belief and support from senior to younger players are what a team requires.
"I think more about the mental toughness and I can see how much they have changed over the last 18 months in terms of the technical aspects."