Asanka Gurusinha, the former batsman and member of the 1996 World Cup winning team, has been appointed as Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) new Chief Cricket Operations Officer. SLC hopes this move will bridge the gap between the national team and its talent production line.
Gurusinha will relinquish his duties as manager of the national team and take charge of SLC’s High Performance Unit and Brain Centre Operations, as well international and women’s cricket affairs. He will fill the High Performance role vacated by Simon Willis, who stepped down due to personal reasons. Willis was originally set to finish his term on June 30, 2018 but will now leave within a month, with Gurusinha set to officially take over on May 15.
“With the High Performance Centre we were having a lot of problems, where when we got players to the national team they were not ready to play a game,” Gurusinha told ESPNcricinfo. “The intensity levels were low. So [Head Coach] Chandika [Hathurusinha] was struggling when the replacements came in. It took him a couple of extra weeks to get them up and running.
“We’ll seriously review the High Performance Centre, because I believe if we do the same thing that we did in the last two years we will not produce cricketers, and that’s the main thing for us. We need to start producing cricketers.”
Gurusinha also hopes his working relationship with Hathurusingha will ensure a more productive line of communication between the HPU and the national team. “Even though I wasn’t directly part of [setting up] the Brain Centre, I was working with them a lot very closely to get data,” he explained. “One of the things for me is that I know exactly what Chandika needs data wise. I can train these Brain Centre staff to focus on getting that information to give Chandika and his team.
“The short-term focus will be on player management. To win the World Cup we need our best players fit. Hathuru and I will be spending more time on better managing the players. We have 14 Test matches and about 25 ODIs before the World Cup. If we don’t manage workloads correctly then we won’t have bowlers.
“[In the long term] we want more [depth]. Right now, we have five fast bowlers injured (Dushmantha Chameera, Nuwan Pradeep, Shehan Madushanka, Asitha Fernando, and Suranga Lakmal), and we don’t have too many replacements coming in, so we seriously need to look at what we’re going to do and build something. We’re not going to find too many, but if we can even find a couple of young guys we can do something, because there’s so much cricket to play.”
SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala echoed Gurusinha’s sentiments, while confrming the board was also in the process of appointing a new cricket manager for the national team. The scope of the role is now likely to be more administrative in nature.
Despite being brought in a managerial capacity initially, Gurusinha had seen his responsibilities grow from being part of the selection committee to having a more hands-on approach in team affairs. However with Hathurusingha’s appointment, that level of responsibility had been deemed redundant.
“We’re comfortable with Hathurusingha and so we need an administrative manager, whereas Gurusinha is a level 3 qualified coach. His technical knowledge is so good that we feel he would be better use in the high performance field,” explained Sumathipala.
“There are people at the national level getting injured, they take longer than we expect to recover, so our rehabilitation situation is not ideal where some guys take three-four months to come back. In High Performance we need a top qualified coach and we’re happy Gurusinha has agreed to take over.”