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Hathurusingha: 'No tension' between senior Bangladesh players and me

His tenure as head coach the last time had led to a few clashes with some of the players

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Chandika Hathurusingha addresses the media in Dhaka, Dhaka, February 22, 2023

Chandika Hathurusingha addressed the media for the first time since returning as the coach  •  BCB

Bangladesh's returning head coach Chandika Hathurusingha has clarified that there is "no tension" between him and the senior players in the side, and that it has never been a challenge for him even in the past.
During his first stint with the Bangladesh side in 2014, Hathurusingha complained to BCB president Nazmul Hassan about Shakib Al Hasan's "serious misbehaviour" which led to the allrounder being banned for six months. It is understood that Hathurusingha also wanted Mahmudullah dropped during their 2017 Sri Lanka tour, and that he also reportedly pushed Mashrafe Mortaza to retire from T20Is in 2017.
"There's no tension with any of the players with me," Hathurusingha said. "I actually enjoy [rivalry]. It is one thing that I drilled into the players when I was coaching Bangladesh: to stand up to any opposition and play with a lot of passion. I was really proud inside the other dressing room how they played the Nidahas Trophy and the Asia Cup after that.
"I don't think it (working with senior players) is going to be a challenge. I have spoken to all the senior players. Everybody is focused on one thing: team is No 1. Everyone wants the team to do well. Even in my last time, I didn't face challenges with any of the players."
Hathurusingha's re-appointment as Bangladesh coach drew diverse reactions from the country's cricket fraternity. The new two-year deal will be his second stint in this position after he spent three years, from 2014 to 2017, before leaving abruptly for the Sri Lanka role.
In his first press conference since his re-appointment, he also defended Bangladesh's strategy of producing raging turners for home Tests. They won Tests against England and Australia in 2016, but since his exit in 2017, the spin-heavy formula hasn't really worked, with Bangladesh winning just four out of 16 Tests.
"When I was thinking of taking this job, I had the big picture in mind. I see a lot of potential in developing the local coaches. I want to help set up the system"
Chandika Hathurusingha
Hathurusingha drew examples of home advantage from India's ongoing home series against Australia where the matches have taken place on spin-friendly pithes, as he also spoke about how Bangladesh face tough conditions in England, Australia and New Zealand.
"I am asking you, what is home advantage?" he said. "What sort of wicket we get when we go to New Zealand? What does Australia or England do when we go there? What is India doing at home? We will try to manage with what we have in overseas. If we don't have missiles, how do you fight? We have to fight guerilla war, isn't it? We can't battle them with little guns at home. If we don't have ammunition, we can't do it.
"We can develop those players, so eventually we have enough. They did well in South Africa and New Zealand. Ebadot [Hossain] and [Najmul Hossain] Shanto went to New Zealand when I was here, as development players. They are now doing well. It takes time. We need to take home advantage. Every country is doing it."

Chandika Hathurusingha: 'Transition period' motivated me to come back

Hathurusingha also said that his biggest motivation to return was the challenge of coaching Bangladesh through their "transition period", starting from the 50-over World Cup scheduled in India later this year.
"I think we are in a transition period in the next two or three years," he said. "A lot of the senior players have done really well for Bangladesh cricket. They are going to be remembered as a really good generation. Other side is the really good young players coming through. To be part of that kind of challenge has always motivated me to come back.
"Back of my mind, I wanted to come back someday. But then, during the T20 World Cup, when I met president and some of the officials, we discussed a few things. I thought it was the right time to come with the 50-over World Cup coming up. I thought it would be too late if I came after the New South Wales (where he worked as assistant coach) season. So I thought this is the right time to come. As soon as the Big Bash ended, I decided to come."
Hathurusingha also said he wants to give back to Bangladesh cricket by developing local coaches.
"When I was thinking of taking this job, I had the big picture in mind. Last time when I came here, I had to prove a lot of people and myself that I can do the international job. I didn't know what I was coming into. This time I know a lot of things about how Bangladesh cricket works. I know about myself. I am much more experienced.
"I see a lot of potential in developing the local coaches. I want to help set up the system. With (BCB head of programmes) David Moore coming before me, I want to suggest about development areas of the next generation. It is not only me trying to win games for Bangladesh. It is my main aim. I want to give something back, and leave something behind."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84