Former wicketkeeper-batsman Ranjit Fernando has been appointed manager of the Sri Lanka team for the tours of South Africa and Australia. Fernando will replace Charith Senanayake, who held the position for most of this year.
Fernando’s appointment is one of three changes to Sri Lanka’s support staff. Neither long-time physiotherapist Steve Mount, nor fielding coach Nick Pothas, will be with the Test side in South Africa. Mount, SLC’s secretary has confirmed, will end his tenure with the team on December 15, while Pothas has been temporarily reassigned to the Under-19 squad as it prepares for the Youth Asia Cup at home.
The board has appointed Ajantha Wattegama in place of Mount, and Manoj Abeywickrama as fielding coach, though these appointments are not understood to be permanent. Both these men had already been on the board’s payroll.
Though the board has said Senanayake’s replacement is part of a “rotation policy”, and that he remains a board employee ostensibly until the end of his contractual term next September, its relationship with Senanayake appears to have deteriorated. Senanayake himself has expressed surprise, disappointment and concern over his sudden removal.
“We in the organisation – the board and executive committee members – have brought in a policy where we appoint a manager on a rotational basis; on a tour-by-tour basis,” SLC CEO Ashley de Silva said. “Not only the manager, but the other support staff will also be appointed on a rotational basis.”
The rotation policy, the board says, has been adopted in order to groom homegrown talent for long-term work with the national team. However, the board has also perceived the existing support staff’s supposed over-familiarity with the players also to be a concern.
Fernando, the new manager, meanwhile, has served in that capacity before, and has a reputation for being one of the most knowledgeable and even-handed figures in Sri Lanka cricket.
Sri Lanka depart on December 10 for their tour of South Africa, where they will play three Tests, three T20s and five ODIs there. (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)