The ‘silver’ linings
While watching the first Afro-Asian One Day International which was taking place in Bangalore, suddenly my attention was taken over by a conversation which took place between the famous Indian Journalist cum Commentator Harsha Bhogle and former South African off spinner Pat Symcox who also has taken his place behind the microphone. The topic was coaching and the subject was Graham Ford – a close associate and countryman of Symcox.
Being a keen student of the subject, for a while the match was lost to me, but the all important conversation between the two analysts of the game took precedence. Ford was previously national team coach in his native South Africa from 1999 to 2001, guiding them to nine series wins out of 11, with just two defeats against Australia. But, something that Symcox mentioned about the former, really took me by surprise. He said that the reason that Ford pulled out from the coveted job was that he was rather perplexed and disappointed about the events that followed the two defeats and the internal politics that was involved.
Where would he end up?
Leave alone the answer of the Indian Journalist. But, I just kept thinking, even hypothetically if Ford pulls off the coache’s job in Sri Lanka where would he end up? The moment he discovers that he is not only answerable to the incumbent hierarchy of cricket, but, to two-bit politicians who do not know the weight of a cricket ball and the disgruntled miscreants who pull their strings from behind the screen in a bid to upset the applecart, he might give up the profession altogether and walk into the closest hermitage to spend the rest of his life in saffron robes.
However in Sri Lanka’s race to the post of National Coach, down the grapevine we hear that the Queensland ‘Bulls’ coach Terry Oliver has made good impact with the former Lankan cricketing stalwarts who had a ‘chat’ with him on the matter. The former cricketers included Aravinda de Silva, Sidath Wettimuny, Duleep Mendis, Anura Tennekone and Michael Tissera along with the vice president of the SLC Interim Committee K. Mathivanan.
Terry Oliver represented Queensland Country at the National Country Championships in 1984-85, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1992-93 and 1993-94 and was a member of the Australia Country team in 1989-90 and 1992-93. In 20 matches in the National Country Championships he scored 864 runs at 41.14 with one century: 100 against Western Australia Country in 1992-93. In 2002 he was appointed as the successor to Bennett King in the position of the Bulls coach...
New South Wales coach Trevor Bayliss is another front runner in contention for the Lankan post. According to news reaching us here at this end Bayliss has even phoned the former Lankan coach Tom Moody and asked him about some hints about the Lankan job and how to get it.
Bayliss has acknowledged that Sri Lanka is one of the better Test playing nations and it would be a great help for him to be in charge of a team of this nature to get his credentials in the world arena updated.
Meanwhile New South Wales, say they will not stand in Bayliss's way if he is offered the post. It is recorded as an NSW official saying "We don't want to lose him, but we realise he is very ambitious and in the long term, he wants to coach Australia.
"Coaching another international side would be a big step towards that goal. Just look at the way it catapulted Tom Moody to the upper echelons of world cricket," NSW chief executive Dave Gilbert told the Sydney Morning Herald.
With the Lankan cricketers fancying the talents, methods and the technologies of Australian cricket it is reported that the above mentioned are the two front runners for the Lankan job. Albeit the status quo, it is also reported that if the present Kent Director of coaching fails the race to the Indian hot seat, the Lankan panel also may invite Graham Ford to have a hearing though he is not made of Australian flesh, blood and credentials.
Talking about credentials my mind wandered back to the initial Symcox-Bhogle discussion. After a long chat, at one point Symcox asked the respected Indian journalist cum commentator as to why India after such a rich tradition of cricket behind them cannot find one of their own to guide the destinies of their cricket. However still I am not very clear about the answer that came by the bewildered Bhogle.
Sitting on this side of the screen despite all my intensity and involvement in the subject I was happy. At least Sri Lanka has taken the first step towards that cherished goal of having their own home grown product when they agreed upon having former national fast bowler Rumesh Ratnayake as assistant national cricket coach.
Now Sri Lanka cricket can rest assured that, whatever happens at the top the continuity of strategies and other allied matters will follow as there will be a local coach assisting the main coach at all times. Here too it should be mentioned that the further those two-bit politicians and disgruntled miscreants keep away and self-bloated cricketers try to keep their itchy egos to themselves it would be better for the game of cricket in this country.
Besides what we have discussed so far, there is another development that I have very happily observed since of late. It is the involvement of former Sri Lanka captain and the deputy to World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunge – Aravinda de Silva lending his expertise in Lanka’s search for Moody’s successor and appointment of former tournament committee chairman Sriyan Samararatne as the manager of the Sri Lanka national team in place of Michael Tissera who has just resigned from that position.
Moves of this nature spell only good for the game’s future in this trouble stricken island. Cricket and cricketers in this country have once again proved that you can unite for a common cause and if your intentions are clearly genuine and there are no hidden agenda’s behind your actions. Cricket is one huge vehicle that takes Sri Lanka to shores beyond this tiny nation. If the others who also matter can take the cue from this very important aspect regarding the development of the game that we all love, what a good place we could have here in this tiny piece of land surrounded by the sea.