Graham Ford had disagreed with the appointment of Asanka Gurusinha as Sri Lanka's cricket manager "from the start", but there was no effort to exclude Ford from team matters, and no undue interference in Ford's role by the board, Gurusinha has said in an interview with ESPNcricinfo. Gurusinha also said his newly formed role does not unduly overlap with that of a head coach.
Ford resigned in June, following what he felt were intrusions into what ought to have been his sphere of influence. Ford met with board officials in Colombo upon his return from the Champions Trophy. Having been told on that occasion that he would have to report to Gurusinha, he then declined to continue.
"Graham, from the start, probably didn't agree with my role," Gurusinha said. "He thought I was interfering a lot more. I thought I wasn't. We did discuss it a lot. I am not sure what he discussed with the SLC president or anything like that. My role was always as a team manager and I will give certain ideas."
There are reports of several instances where Gurusinha and Ford differed during the Champions Trophy, including in the area of selection. As part of his duties as cricket manager, Gurusinha is also the selector on tour. But that is a power that he does not wield with unwarranted force, said Gurusinha.
"At the end of the day, I do make the decision on the team - on the final XI. That decision is mine. But in my five months, I've never gone against the captain's decision. With the head coach - I wouldn't say I always agree with everything. But I look at the fact that the captain goes to the middle with the team, not me. I have always given the team that the captain wanted. During the Champions Trophy, the final XI, even on things that I didn't agree, I always went with Angelo Mathews' final decision. He has to go to the middle."
Allegations have also arisen that Ford was systematically pushed out by Gurusinha, who is claimed to have excluded Ford from team meetings, making Ford feel redundant. Gurusinha denied this.
"There was nothing like that happening. We didn't have a single meeting without Graham Ford, if it was cricket-related. If it was administration- or security-related, we won't get Ford into those meetings. But anything with cricket or cricket selection, Graham was always there. Even though Graham is not a selector in SLC's selection policy, I always had him there. We always had the vice-captain there as well. It was a team that discussed everything, and I never excluded Graham."
Gurusinha described his role as one of coordinating with the head coach, the selectors, the high-performance centre, the players, and SLC. As such, he said he could act as a buffer between the coach and SLC's administrators, who have a long history of intruding into team matters.
"It's important that you're clear with administrators and say: 'This is not part of your position. This is part of mine. Let me do it and trust me. I do respect SLC's policies and all of that - absolutely. But when it comes to decision-making, I always do everything within my powers.
"But I haven't come across anything like that [intrusions by administrators]. I also have good relationships with SLC officials. And they do respect me for who I am."
The full interview with Asanka Gurusinha will be published on July 29