Has Kusal’s epic innings given Hathuru a lifeline? | Daily News

Has Kusal’s epic innings given Hathuru a lifeline?

Kusal Perera’s astonishing innings of 153 not out against all odds to swing a Test match that was going South Africa’s way and to win it for Sri Lanka by one wicket in the first Test at Durban may have provided under pressure head coach Chandika Hathurusingha with a lifeline to complete his term with Sri Lanka Cricket.

Ever since taking over the role of head coach of the Sri Lanka team in December 2017, Hathurusingha who was hailed as a messiah and came with a strong reputation having had a successful stint with Bangladesh, has struggled to maintain the same pace and standard with a Sri Lanka team that was on the mend having lost a couple of their legendary cricketers.

With every loss Sri Lanka suffered regardless of what format – Test, ODI or T20I, the pressure was on the head coach and it came to a point where reports suggested that the Sports Ministry had approached the Attorney-General’s department to review Hathurusingha’s contract with Sri Lanka Cricket.

Hathurusingha who enjoyed wide ranging powers bestowed on him by the previous Sri Lanka Cricket administration had some of them stripped off especially being removed as a selector on tour during the recent tour to Australia. Until that point he remained in control of team selections since commencing his coaching stint with Sri Lanka. But the continuous failure of the team to strike a consistent winning formula in any format made it a rather uncomfortable seat for Hathurusingha to sit on.

With his career as head coach of the Lankan team on the line Kusal Perera may have provided him with just the right antidote to have it extended probably till the end of the World Cup with his stunning batting performance.

The Lankan team battered in New Zealand and then white-washed in Australia were looking in desperation for an opportunity to turn the corner and the win at Durban simply came from out of the blues because no one in their wildest of dreams would have backed a struggling Sri Lanka team to pull off such a heist under the nose of the Proteas who were confidently moving towards victory having reduced Sri Lanka to 226-9 chasing 304.

That win ended a barren run of six months without a Test win, the last one coming at the SSC in July 2018 against South Africa. In fact Sri Lanka went through seven Tests (6 losses, 1 draw) before ending the losing streak at Durban, where they have now built up a proud record of being unbeaten in three Tests played there (2 wins and 1 draw).

However amidst this miracle win which will certainly go down in Test cricket history as one of the greatest there surfaced a dodgy video that went viral on social media showing all the Lankan cricketers showering praise on the head coach saying that they played for him not least realizing that he was against some of their selections when he was a dominant force as a national selector.

Furthermore things simply got out of hand when a former player who had captained his country to Test wins was seen using abusive language and directing it at the Sri Lanka Cricket administration.

While nothing should be taken away from the players and the team management on their heroic victory, we condone this sort of behavior by the players especially a senior team member.

Sri Lanka Cricket has called for a report from the team manager on the incident and how the video came to be leaked out. In fact what took place privately inside a dressing room should never have gone public. The question remains was it put out for a specific reason in support of the coach or with certain other motives.

Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga condoned the behavior of the players inside the dressing room and said that it further proved to what levels player-discipline had sunk. “During our days when we ended a game we used to hold internal discussions. During those talks we would discuss various issues. But what was said never went beyond the dressing room walls. That’s because we had discipline and a sense of responsibility. What this fiasco shows is the extent to which the players’ discipline has eroded. If I was at the helm of SLC I would have promptly identified and dealt with the individual who had posted that video on social media.”

One hopes that the matter would not end there as has been on a previous instance where the Sri Lanka Cricket was found badly wanting when they failed to initiate any action or inquiry on captain Dinesh Chandimal, coach Hathurusingha and manager Asanka Gurusinha for refusing to continue play on the third morning of the second Test against West Indies at St Lucia’s in June last year whereas the ICC handed out a four-ODI and two-Test punishment for all three for acting against the spirit of the game.

An inquiry should be called for after the tour is over not in the midst of it because the players are all charged up after finally feeling the taste of victory following many defeats and should be allowed to continue in the same vein for the rest of the tour.


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