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Nigeria have signed up Asanka Gurusinha, the former Sri Lanka batsman and manager of the national team, as their head coach and high-performance director. In his new job, starting this month, Gurusinha will also the training of local coaches, with the Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) moving to handle "tremendous growth and development in all areas of the sport".
Nigeria have been on the rise in the last year and a half, with appearances at the Under-19 World Cup earlier this year as well as at the 2019 T20 World Cup qualifier - while the women's team played the World Cup qualifier in Zimbabwe in 2019 - and are now aiming higher.
"The appointment of Asanka marks another milestone in this administration's desire to raise the standard of the game in the country both at the elite and development level," Yahaya Adam Ukwenya, president of the NCF, said in a statement. "Internally, his appointment will greatly impart on our development structure as we look to begin our Accelerated Growth Program.
"On the big stage, Nigeria can no longer take a passing interest in world cricket, we should be able to compete at all levels we play and not just make up the numbers."
Gurusinha, now 54, represented Sri Lanka as a player from 1985 to 1996, most memorably at the 1996 World Cup, where he scored 307 runs from six innings at an average of 51.16 as Sri Lanka won the trophy for the first - and so far only - time. Overall, he played 41 Tests (2452 runs at an average of 38.92, seven centuries and eight half-centuries) and 147 ODIs (3902 runs at 28.27, two centuries and 22 half-centuries). He also picked up 46 international wickets with his part-time medium pace.
A Level 3 coach, Gurusinha has more recently been cricket manager and selector for the Sri Lanka men's team and also a consultant with Cricket Australia.
NCF said that Gurusinha would be officially unveiled as the new coach at a ceremony in the capital city of Abuja on December 8, with the national team members and federation officials in attendance.