Karunaratne: Arthur was 'like a father' to Sri Lanka's players

Test captain praises outgoing coach's influence on the team

Mickey Arthur gives his final decision during a nets session, Cardiff, June 22, 2021

Mickey Arthur's tenure as coach coincided with an improved showing from Sri Lanka in limited-overs cricket  •  PA Images via Getty Images

Mickey Arthur is an excellent manager of players. This, essentially, is Sri Lanka Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne's take-away after two years under this coach.
Arthur had spent much of the pandemic in Sri Lanka while borders were closed, and has had a number of public endorsements from his players, including Karunaratne and Wanindu Hasaranga. He is, however, leaving Sri Lanka for a "head of cricket" role with Derbyshire, despite having wanted to stay on.
The board, acting on the advice of SLC's technical committee headed by Aravinda de Silva, had asked several of the men's national side's coaches to reapply for their roles - a risk Arthur was unwilling to take given the Derbyshire offer.
Either way, this is Arthur's last series with the Sri Lanka side. Although senior players had at times been unhappy with Arthur's role in the resolution of their contracts stand-off with the board earlier in the year, Karunaratne was nevertheless effusive in his praise of Arthur ahead of these Tests against West Indies.
"Mickey's a different kind of coach - he's someone who builds a lot of confidence," Karunaratne said. "When you get to this level, more than skills, it's your mental side and your preparation that's important. Mickey treats each player differently."
Although Sri Lanka's Test side has not seen substantial leaps ahead during Arthur's tenure, they did seem to make gains in the limited-overs formats. Although not particularly renowned as a T20 coach, Sri Lanka's T20 side turned heads at the recent World Cup.
"He's a father to some, a friend to others," Karunaratne said of Arthur. "He knows how to handle each player. He's built a lot of confidence in the team. We saw a lot of players come through under him, and we saw players who were already good get better while he was around. He's a very good coach. I'm disappointed he's leaving us. Actually, as players, we're very sad. But I'm sure he'll be of great service to Derbyshire."
Arthur's final assignment with Sri Lanka is the two-Test series against West Indies, starting Sunday in Galle.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf