14 December 1996

Bruce Yardley - Sri Lanka`s new cricket coach

By Sa`adi Thawfeeq

Former Western Australia and Australian Test off-spinner Bruce Yardley will be the new coach of World Cup champions Sri Lanka.

After week`s of anxious negotiations with several possible candidates, the Sri Lanka Cricket Board finally settled for Yardley to succeed another former Australian Test cricketer Davenall Whatmore as coach of the Sri Lanka team.

Whatmore quit his post as coach six months ahead of his two-year contract which was to end in June next year, to take up a new position as head coach of English county side Lancashire.

The Cricket Board has signed Yardley on a two-year contract and his first assignment is to take charge of the Sri Lanka squad and prepare it for the tour of New Zealand, beginning February end.

The 49-year-old spinner with an unorthodox actiion (he gripped the ball with the middle and ring fingers instead of first and middle fingers), represented Australia in 33 Tests from 1977-78 to 1983 taking 126 wickets (avg. 31.63). He also proved himself a good all-rounder, scoring 978 runs (avg. 19.56) and holding 31 catches.

As a member of Greg Chappell`s Australian team in 1983, Yardley was instrumental in bowling his side to an innings victory over Sri Lanka in tandem with left-arm spinner Tom Hogan in the oneoff Test played at Asgiriya. Yardley finished with a match bag of 7 for 166 (5 for 88 in first innings) in what was to be his final Test appearance for his country.

Eight years later, Yardley who was then a full time coach working with the Western Austalian Cricket Association returned on a three-week coaching stint by courtesy of the Australian Cricket Board and the Australian government.

During this short sojourn, he picked on off-spinner Muthiah Muralitharan, then a student at St. Anthony`s College, Katugastota, as future Test material. Yardley also strongly supported Muralitharan, when the off-spinner was called for throwing in the Melbourne Test against Australia last year.

The Cricket Board by signing on Yardley, also hope to use him to develop the country`s spin department which apart from Muralitharan, is grossly short of quality slow bowlers.

Yardley takes over a team of players whose playing standards have been raised to that of world champions by Whatmore whose premature departure left the Cricket Board digging its heels for a successor.

The names of former cricketers like Bob Simpson, Allan Lamb, Mike Gatting, Eddie Barlow, Peter Philpott, Jeff Thomson and Clive Rice were all thrown up as possible candidates, before the Cricket Board finally settled for Yardley.

Source :: Daily News (http://www.lanka.net)