I am the plaster for every wound says sporting Avishka | Daily News

I am the plaster for every wound says sporting Avishka

The name of Avishka Gunawardene may not figure prominently as much as the head coach of the Sri Lanka team because ‘A’ team coaches hardly hog the limelight. Usually the country’s attention is largely focused on the performances of the national team and not so much on sides in the lower ranks like the ‘A’ team, the Emerging team and the under 19 side.

So for Gunawardene’s name to suddenly surface in the media and capture the headlines something drastic must have taken place. Reports indicated that he has been removed as the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team coach for their tour to India and has been asked to undertake the role of coach of the Sri Lanka Emerging side that is to tour South Africa.

Why there was a hue and cry created in the media was that Gunawardene was undoubtedly the most successful ‘A’ team coach the country’s had and his knack of spotting young talent has resulted in several players making it to the national team. For him to be suddenly removed with such an excellent track record was the cause for some consternation.

But when Sri Lanka Cricket decided to stand down Gunawardene for the ‘A’ team tour to India and asked him to take the Emerging side to South Africa they had a reason.

“Ninety-five percent of the players selected for the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team to India are players who have played for Sri Lanka and there is nothing much for a coach like Avishka to do that is why we decided to send him with the Emerging side because he is a better coach at spotting talent,” said Sri Lanka Cricket president Shammi Silva.

“All those in the Emerging side are future prospects. They are young guys and Avishka can gauge and then take them to the ‘A’ team. South Africa is a tougher tour than India. We are sending Roy Dias as coach of the ‘A’ team to India because with the Sri Lankan players there is not much to do and there is not much pressure also. The change is only for this tour,” assured Silva.

South Africa is a longer tour with 7 ODIs and 3 four-day games and will commence on June 25. The Indian tour will comprise 2 four-day games and 5 ODIs. The ‘A’ team is expected to leave for India on May 20 and return on June 16.

The change is all well and good but the manner in which Sri Lanka Cricket went about doing it was not in the right spirit.

What we are made to understand is that Gunawardene sat with the selectors to pick the ‘A’ team and had done all the ground work to go on the tour to India when SLC took this late decision to remove him from the tour and send him to South Africa instead.

What SLC could have done if they wanted Gunawardene to go with the Emerging side was to have first spoken to him and explained what they had in mind and then made the decision. No doubt by this unprofessional act the SLC cut a sorry figure.

Gunawardene we understand has been contracted with SLC as their ‘A’ team coach till September 2019.

Being the true sportsman he is Gunawardene, an ex Sri Lanka Test and ODI cricketer took what was coming on the chin and said, “I have accepted Sri Lanka Cricket’s decision. If that is the idea behind, it’s fine I will do it. The (SLC) president had a chat with me and he said that it was only for this tour. I have always been doing whatever Sri Lanka Cricket has been asking me to do Emerging tour, ‘A’ tour even national tour. I am the plaster for every wound.”

Gunawardene said that about five to six young players would go on the tour to South Africa with the Emerging side. Explaining the compositions of the ‘A’ team and the Emerging team Gunawardene said, “For the Emerging team generally we try to take players who are under 25 or one or two guys over that age because some of these guys come into the system at 26 or 27, then they are also included. There is no hard and fast rule but we basically take ones who are grooming. With the Emerging team we have a long term plan for them. We identify talent and if we think they will probably be ready in another 18 months we take him on the Emerging tour and bring him to the system. The criteria for the ‘A’ team is immediate replacements for the senior side.”

The next ‘A’ team tour after India is to Sri Lanka when Bangladesh are due in September and Gunawardene said, “When the next ‘A’ tour comes around the World Cup will be over and obviously there will be 3-4 guys who will retire after or not might be considered, then there will be about 3-4 players from the ‘A’ team who will eventually go and cement their place in the national team. It will probably be a brand new ‘A’ team when the next tour comes along. If SLC are doing any restructuring after the World Cup that will also take place.”

So as for now let’s grin and bear it.


 

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