Hathuru: The Tiger the Lions failed | Sunday Observer

Hathuru: The Tiger the Lions failed

11 August, 2019
Chandika Hathurusinha (left) with former head Selector Graeme Labrooy when things were not as bad as it is today
Chandika Hathurusinha (left) with former head Selector Graeme Labrooy when things were not as bad as it is today

Ousted Sri Lanka cricket coach Chandika Hathurusinha must have been the bravest mentor of men and he had plenty of wisdom and reason to think so.

As an average opening batsman with the Sri Lanka team in the 1990s when cricket was less competitive and intense as it is today, he could have only craved for the kind of recognition that some of his team-mates had.

But then something happened after he hung up his bat. He qualified as an undisputed coach in Australia, where cricket is the next best thing on the other side of Parliament and soon had a market price on his head that as a player he did not have.

Across the ocean, the Bangladesh team that takes pride in branding themselves the Tigers, were hunting for a coach and Hathurusinha almost performed a miracle. He became one of them as he and the Bangladeshis rose up to a major force and Hathurusinha even invaded Sri Lanka with his team of Tigers for a full showdown in 2017 months before he bagged his goose in the island.

By that time the Sri Lanka team that he once batted for was in tatters as desperate administrators cracked their brains to find a suitable coaching bet. Hathurusinha was foremost on their minds but he also became so elusive that they had to look elsewhere for a coach, unable to match his figure until at last it was decided “let’s bag him for what he wants.”

Hathurusinha cashed in with his penchant for the big bucks that quite rightly made him probably the highest earning individual Sri Lankan. The amount he could have earned until his initial three-year contract expired in December 2020 could send many professionals bonkers.

But Hathurusinha became the most treasured mortal at Sri Lanka Cricket that they even took his contract beyond the 2019 World Cup, cock sure that the team could not have a better coach and coaches were in big demand with the Indian Premier League attracting them by the plane loads.

Nobody could have grudged or blamed Hathurusinha at the time he made his second coming this time as a coach. But Sri Lanka was not Bangladesh and Hathurusinha who himself was a victim of injustice as a player began to feel the heat.

Boardroom politics, player squabbles, the absence of consistent match winners and camps in the camp paved the way for defeats in Test series against England, New Zealand and Australia within an eight month period to add to ODI defeats against England, New Zealand, South Africa and the Asia Cup during the same time. Recalled from the tour of South Africa just two months before the World Cup, Hathurusinha had lost most of his clout by then. He could have saved faced at the World Cup but probably learnt a lesson that sometimes it is the players who make the coach.

The team lost out on a place in the final Four and broke him further with not a bone to cling to. He was the Tiger the Lions had failed.