Atapattu appointed SL Head Coach

Thursday, 25 September 2014 01:10 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Takes over as first full-time local coach in 15 years
ESPNCricinfo: Marvan Atapattu’s appointment as Sri Lanka’s first full-time local coach in 15 years has been confirmed by Sri Lanka Cricket, following a six-week vetting process, and his three-month tenure as interim coach. SLC’s coach-selection committee interviewed Atapattu and one other remaining candidate on Tuesday, and then recommended Atapattu as their preferred candidate to the executive committee. The executive committee then “unanimously approved and appointed Marvan Attapattu to the position of National Head Coach of Sri Lanka Cricket with immediate effect,” an SLC release said. Atapattu was always a strong contender for the position, thanks largely to his intimate knowledge of the Sri Lanka set-up and its players, as well as his success as interim head coach. In three tours in charge, Atapattu oversaw a major Test series win over England in June, as well as triumphs in the ODIs and Twenty20. Disappointments against South Africa at home followed, in both series, but Sri Lanka rebounded under him to defeat Pakistan in the ODIs and win the Test series 2-0. There had been strident concerns within SLC and the coach-selection committee about his suitability for the role, as some of his former team-mates are still playing in the side, and because he is a relatively inexperienced coach, having joined the top team in 2011. However, there has been a swell of support for him over the past two days, and many within the administration have viewed him as the logical choice. Atapattu’s appointment also overcomes aversion to appointing home-grown coaches, because of long-held concerns that local coaches are more susceptible to the tug-and-pull of board politics than foreign coaches. Sri Lanka’s last local head coach, aside from brief interim appointments, had been Roy Dias, in 1999. At present, the appointment is open-ended, and Atapattu is expected to bring some stability to the role, as he becomes the fifth full-time head coach Sri Lanka have had in four years. Part of the rationale of appointing Atapattu had been that he was less likely to be lured away after a short term, as Sri Lanka’s last coach Paul Farbrace was. Farbrace’s predecessor Graham Ford had also only completed two years in the role before taking a job in England, with Surrey. The appointment had not been without its drama. The board had made slow progress in selecting a coach in the previous six weeks, before on Tuesday morning, chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya stepped down from the coach-selection committee, citing dissatisfaction with the process. Perhaps with a view to having the new coach confirmed on Wednesday’s executive meeting, the coach-selection committee quickly whittled an eight-man shortlist down to two candidates in Jayasuriya’s absence, and they had arrived at their recommendation for the position by Wednesday morning. Atapattu’s first assignment will be the seven-match ODI series against England, which begins on 26 November. Sri Lanka will then have a full tour of New Zealand, which features two Tests and seven ODIs. His immediate challenge is to maintain the standards Sri Lanka have set in their cricket in 2014. But given the team’s recent track record in global tournaments, and the amount of effort Sri Lanka have already expended in preparation for cricket’s showpiece event, Atapattu’s first major test will be the World Cup, which begins 14 February 2015.