So, Bangladesh is once again returning to Hathuru era? Hathuru means Chandika Hathurusingha. It is true that Bangladesh is getting back the Sri Lankan cricket coach who has been living in Australia for many years but it is more appropriate to say- Hathurusingha is returning. He is coming back as coach of Bangladesh men’s national team head coach. The responsibility he abandoned five years ago in a rather objectionable way.
Expressing it straight rather than staying in the safe side using the words like may be, perhaps because the return of Hathurusingha is only a matter of formality now. Discussion with Bangladesh Cricket Board has been finished a long ago and even the issues like wages and other matters have been finalised.
Now it is only about pen the signature down on contract paper. Sometimes even the distance between tea pot and a lip may not be transgressed but without that sort of incredible uncertainty it is certain Hathurusingha will commence his new innings as Bangladeshi coach later this month.
After the departure of Russell Domingo the activities looked evident but searching a coach had been going on for a while as was the discussion with Hathurusingha.
The role of BCB president Nazmul Hassan, who adores Hathurusingha, is dominant in electing new coach. The chemistry with players might have been mixed with Hathurusingha during his first tenure as coach but that with board president that had always been sweet. That very fact must have played a big role of his return.
BCB, however, did not have many options either. Many of the eminent coaches are reluctant these days of talking full time responsibility for national teams. Indian Premier League and other franchise leagues not only provide large sums but also allow adequate time to spend with family.
As a result whenever coaches get the proposal of taking over the responsibility of a national team they demand leave during IPL. Many of them do not want to work throughout the year. For example, as Tom Moody gave condition of not working more than 100 days a year, BCB did not continue the discussion with him.
Among the coaches who were in the short list of BCB, only Hathurusingha was available for the whole year. With this fact and the adoration of the president Bangladesh is set to return to ‘Hathuru era.’ There is another reason. A section of the BCB believes, a ‘soft’ coach like Domingo would not work with Bangladesh. The team requires a ‘strict headmaster.’
During Domingo era the responsibility of Bangladesh coach was divided in red ball and white ball. BCB seems happy with Sridharan Sriram with his work as white ball coach. So, BCB also wants him.
But they want him as an assistant coach with the realisation of the fact that ‘one coach is better’. Whether Sriram will be ready to act as assistant coach after worked as head coach of T20 is not clearly stated yet. He may agree if his contract with IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bengaluru is not renewed.
Whether Sriram will stay with Hathuru is a matter that may be shelved for the time being. What is then the current discussion? That must be whether the almost certain return of Hathurusingha is good or bad for Bangladesh cricket. It is tough to answer straightaway. But some questions may be raised. The success and failure of a coach is scribed in statistical data. Evidently the data of Hathurusingha as coach of Bangladesh in his first tenure is there and his success may be gauged through those. He had some success.
Bangladesh played ODI World Cup quarterfinal in 2015, played semifinal of 2017 ICC Champions Trophy. The team beat Pakistan, India and South Africa at home in three consecutive ODI series.
There are three mentionable wins in Test cricket- against England and Australia at home and the centenary Test against Sri Lanka at Colombo. Before the win against New Zealand at Mount Maunganui earlier last year, those three aforementioned wins were regarded best for Bangladesh in Test cricket.
So, one may say the Chandika Hathurusingha era as best in Bangladesh cricket in terms of record. But, one must also consider the Bangladesh team on that era was perhaps best in their history. Shakib was at his peak. Same is true for Mashrafe, Tamim, Mushfiq and Mamudullah. Hathuru’s coaching and planning must had some impact but the captaincy of Mashrafe had it even more.
The wins against England and Australia were achieved thanks to extremely turning pitches. The idea of designer pitches at the home ground was incepted in Hathuru era. That may bring instant success but one may question whether it has hampered Bangladesh cricket in long term.
The Hathurusingha era also saw the beginning of many traditional rules of Bangladesh cricket crumbling. By taking the advantage of his direct communication and impacting board president, Hathurusingha became an even greater force than the combined force of cricket operations and selection committee.
The haphazard that it created still continues. The ‘goodwill’ that he has about keeping the cricketers ‘in line’ also faced disgruntle in dressing room for its procedure. It does not seem that any of the senior players in Bangladesh team will feel ecstatic hearing the return of Hathurusingha. I shall be surprised if no objection is occurred.
Many in BCB thinks Hathurusingha did a great damage by removing Mashrafe from international T20 by force. The way he left Bangladesh, it is natural to have some grievances about it. Can you recall? Hathurusingha went to South Africa along with the team in November 2017 and sent his resignation letter through an e-mail from there.
The reason became clear in the following month when the name of the new Sri Lankan coach was announced. It was not mere his dream of coaching his own country. He got around 150 percent money comparing to what he used to get as Bangladesh coach and that was the reason he abandoned his professionalism.
The amount of the sum did not remain hidden thanks to Sri Lankan sports minister. After the failure of 2019 World Cup he often used to criticise Hathurusingha for his USD 40,000 salary per month. In the end Sri Lanka dismissed him at the halfway stage of his three-year contract. He was even kept ‘OSD.’
With the funny twist of fate, Hathurusingha is returning to Bangladesh after five years for less money for the very thing he abandoned the country’s cricket.
*This report appeared in the online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Syed Faiz Ahmed