Shortly after Chandika Hathurusingha took over as head coach of the Bangladesh cricket team for the second time, Bangladesh suffered their first ODI series defeat in seven years, sparking doubts about whether Hathurusingha would be able to replicate his previous success, reports Prothom Alo.
However, those doubts quickly faded away as Bangladesh won four consecutive international matches, including one ODI and three T20Is, against England after losing the first two ODIs.
Bangladesh then posted their highest-ever ODI total against Ireland in the first of a three-match series in Sylhet. In the second match, they broke their own record by posting 349, their new highest in ODIs.
So, what did Hathurusingha do to change the Tigers overnight? The answer is: ensuring psychological safety for the players.
Ahead of the three-match T20I series against Ireland, Bangladesh's coach was asked how he changed the team, which was struggling with many problems, including a rift between two senior players, Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan. Hathurusingha said he just wanted to ensure an environment where everyone will be psychologically safe.
"If you can create an environment where the players can do their best without worrying about the outcome - not only from coaches or selectors, even from their peers, and if they can be free to try things; if they fail, they are still okay. They are the same players, and we trust them," Hathurusingha explained.
Creating such an environment, or at least preaching for it, is the biggest change in Bangladesh's dressing room since he made a comeback as head coach, Hathrusingha added.
The idea seems to be working well, at least for some players who were struggling in recent times. For example, in the 12 ODI innings before Hathurusingha's return as coach, Mushfiqur Rahim scored only one fifty, and after Hathurusingha took over, Mushfiqur hit a fifty and a century in five innings, indicating that a free mind is helping him come out of his shell.
"I know that if you create an environment like that, the only way forward is if they can do their best. If their best is not good enough on some days, we will lose. That's the game," Hathurusingha said on Sunday.
As Bangladesh prepares for the 50-over World Cup later this year in India, it is important for them to be on a winning streak. It is clear that Hathurusingha's new mantra of psychological safety is helping them to achieve that goal.