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Sports minister asks SLC to overhaul national team's coaching staff

It is understood the hefty cost of terminating Hathurusingha's contract has put the board in an uncomfortable situation in recent months

Madushka Balasuriya
The hefty cost of Chandika Hathurusingha's contract could become an issue for the board

Peter Della Penna

Sri Lanka Cricket is likely to completely overhaul the national team's coaching staff following the side's upcoming home ODIs against Bangladesh. The move, which had been mooted for some time, was all but confirmed after local media reported that Sri Lanka's sports minister had demanded the resignation of all members of Sri Lanka's coaching staff.
"We're looking at that same line, but we (the board) will see what we can do when we come back. We first need to talk with the minister," SLC president Shammi Silva, who is presently out of the country, stated when questioned on the minister's demand.
The move is the most overt instance of government intervention in SLC affairs in recent times, and it remains to be seen how this will impact Sri Lanka's upcoming series against Bangladesh which is set to start on July 26. Silva doesn't feel the team will be unduly affected by the news.
"The team has nothing to do with the coaching staff. It only becomes a problem if the players have bonded with the coaches. I don't think it will affect the tour."
Sri Lanka's coaching staff currently consists of head coach Chandika Hathurusingha, batting coach Jon Lewis, and fielding coach Steve Rixon, though according to Silva there is still room for some of them to be retained.
"There are a few guys who are doing ok. We have already done an evaluation [prior to the World Cup], but we need to do another one after the World Cup, and after that only we have to have a discussion with the minister and see what happens," he explained.
Both Rixon and Lewis had joined up with SLC up until the end of the 2019 World Cup, and as such their contracts are up for renewal. Rixon's impact has been particularly lauded by SLC, as the board is happy with the team's fielding performance at the World Cup. However, according to Silva, Rixon is not keen to continue in the role.
As such, the sports minister's demand for a resignation mainly relates to Hathurusingha, who still has 16 months left on the bumper contract he signed when he took over in January 2018. This paired with the fact that the demand was for the staff's collective resignation as opposed to the board simply being asked to remove the coaching staff, is telling.
It is understood the hefty cost of terminating Hathurusingha's contract has put the board in an uncomfortable situation in recent months, where they have been unable to remove a coach who has reportedly fallen out with several players and members of the coaching staff.