Hathurusingha, de Mel 'thrash things out' to work together for World Cup

Sri Lanka's head coach Chandika Hathurusingha at a practice session
Sri Lanka news May 02, 2019

Sri Lanka Cricket believes that coach Chandika Hathurusingha and Ashantha de Mel will have no issues working together in the Sri Lankan dressing room, after the pair is said to have "thrashed things out" prior to the latter's appointment as team manager and selector-on-tour for the World Cup starting at the end of this month. Since de Mel took the reins as chief selector ahead of Sri Lanka's tour to New Zealand, the pair had clashed over several selection choices - most notably the exclusion of Dinesh Chandimal and Lasith Malinga's captaincy.

"Before the appointment we got the both of them together to talk things through," SLC secretary Mohan de Silva told Cricday. "They eventually thrashed things out and now we're very confident that they'll work quite well together."

De Mel's appointment, which was rubber-stamped by SLC at an executive committee meeting on April 30, had been mooted for some time, but speculation had been rife over whether he and Hathurusingha would be able to get along over the course of the six-week tournament.

It was a spat with the new selection committee that culminated in Hathurusingha being removed from the role of selector-on-tour in February. And since then Hathurusingha's job security has only become more tenuous.

In March, he was given "a break" during Sri Lanka's T20I series against South Africa after rumours surfaced of him having fallen out with certain players and staff. The situation was so dire that SLC CEO Ashley de Silva flew over personally to hold crisis talks, following which Hathurusingha returned to the island for further mediation. During this period, there were also reports of SLC seeking legal advice over possible options with regard to prematurely terminating Hathurusingha's contract which will only run out in 2020.

However, following clear-the-air talks with the board, Hathurusingha is understood to have agreed to rein in his methods as a "total dictator", much of which de Silva believes had manifested during the course of the nine-month SLC power vacuum, when the governing body was run by a sports ministry-appointed competent authority.

"We were in two minds whether to discontinue him or not," de Silva said. "We needed to know if he was amenable to our way of thinking and whether he would change his attitude. Because to be quite honest, he had become a total dictator after we left, and that's also one of the reasons that the selectors were gunning for him.

"But he has now promised to toe the line with the administrators and the selectors, because to be honest his thinking in terms of the national team has been good, although the results haven't followed unfortunately."

Sri Lanka will begin their World Cup campaign against New Zealand in Cardiff on June 1.

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