Sri Lanka have tapped a former skipper and several ex-players to replace head coach Mickey Arthur who joins the English county side Derbyshire next month, cricket officials said Thursday. Mahela Jayawardene has been approached to coach and mentor the national team, English-language daily The Island reported, quoting unnamed Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) sources. The 44-year-old worked on improving the morale of the Sri Lankan team during the latest T20 World Cup but they failed to make it to the semi-finals.
Jayawardene told AFP however that “no one has spoken to me, you should ask SLC”.
“The proposal is to rope in Jayawardene as one of the consultant coaches possibly on a two-year tenure with several recently retired players like Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara and Lasith Malinga joining,” The Island said.
A top board official told AFP they were keen to overcome the language barrier local players faced when dealing with a foreign coach.
“There may not be a head coach straight away as the board considers all options,” the source said, asking not to be named.
“The idea is to get local coaches who can be easily understood by players.”
Sri Lanka previously appointed former Sri Lankan test player Chandika Hathurusingha as head coach in December 2017, but he was terminated after the team ended up sixth in the 2019 ODI World Cup.
Mickey Arthur will leave after Sri Lanka’s two-match home Test series against the West Indies early next month.
In July, Arthur ordered Sri Lankan players off social media after disgruntled fans launched a campaign to boycott them following a string of defeats overseas.
The coach said the players were getting “absolutely hammered” on social media and it was affecting their judgement and mood as they prepared for the T20 World Cup.
At the tournament, Sri Lanka got through the qualifiers, but lost three of their four “Super-12” stage games to see their semi-final hopes dashed.
Arthur — who previously coached South Africa, Australia and Pakistan — said he was sad to leave Sri Lanka but that the team was in a better place than when he took over two years ago.
“Sad that it is the end of the road with SL after the WI test series!” he wrote on Twitter.
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