Hathurusingha given deadline to quit: Harin

Harin Fernando - UNP MP

Sri Lanka was considering applications from three “top international cricket coaches” to replace incumbent Chandika Hathurusingha, who has until mid-August to step down, Sports Minister Harin Fernando said Tuesday.

He said Hathurusingha would be given until the start of Sri Lanka’s home Test series against New Zealand, which begins on August 14, to quit and make way for a new coach. “Before the New Zealand Test series we will have a new coach,” the minister told reporters in Colombo.

“If Hathurusingha does not leave, we may have to consider legal action or offer him a different job at the board.” Following Sri Lanka’s disappointing World Cup, where they finished in sixth-place, Hathurusingha and his assistants were expected to be shown the door. Fernando said there were three top international coaches willing to replace Hathurusingha, a former Sri Lankan Test player.

Earlier Tuesday Fernando said Hathurusingha’s remuneration — $40,000 a month — was too high, adding: “If we are winning only 35 per cent of the games, no need to pay such high fees to coaches.” Fernando said the international candidates were asking for lower salaries of between $17,500 to $25,000 a month but did not name them. “For the price we are paying now, we can get two foreign coaches,” he said.

“We must renegotiate the high fees we are paying at the moment. If they don’t agree, they can go.” Meanwhile, Hathurusingha has insisted he would stay to see out his contract. “I have another 16 months,” he told reporters earlier this month after returning to Colombo from the World Cup in England. “I hope to remain until my contract runs out.” Hathurusingha also acknowledged that team management had to “accept responsibility for what happened”.

Sri Lanka cricket was in crisis when Hathurusingha was appointed in December 2017, after a successful three-year spell in charge of Bangladesh. They had just been hammered in Tests by India at home and away, and played poorly in one-day internationals. Under Hathurusingha, Sri Lanka notched up Test wins against England and Australia. The first Test against New Zealand will be played in Galle starting August 14, and the second will begin on August 22 at Colombo’s P. Sara stadium. Three T20s will be played on August 31, September 2 and September 6.