Colombo, Sri Lanka (BBN) – Bangladesh have been around in the cricketing circle for long but never have they managed to make their presence felt as well as they’re doing it now.
They’ve had their best-ever campaigns in Asia Cup and World Cup last year, earned a rare Test win over England and even qualified for the Champions Trophy in England ahead of West Indies, reports Cricbuzz.
Their coach Chandika Hathurusingha expressed his desire to guide Bangladesh to the position where Sri Lanka were in 1996 – a year that fuelled their ambitions and defined their cricket fortunes for years to come.
“In 2019, I want to bring the Bangladesh team to where Sri Lanka were in 1996,” Hathurusingha told a Sinhalese newspaper Divaina.
“That’s my target. Whatever happens, I’m not going to ask to stay with Bangladesh forever. I will also not resign. The only reason for leaving is if I’m not allowed to do what I want to do, but there’s no such situation at present.”
The year 1996 proved to a breakthrough one for Sri Lanka, as they lifted the World Cup while producing some of the legends of the game like Aravinda de Silva, Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan, and establishing a new world leader in Arjuna Ranatunga. Hathurusingha, who aims to bring Bangladesh to a similar pedestal, lauded the Bangladesh Cricket Board for giving him whatever he had asked for – like being part of the selection panel and chalking out plans for the team’s future.
The coach though didn’t shy away from expressing his wish of working with Sri Lanka cricket (SLC).
He had in fact made himself available to them before taking up his role with the Bangladesh team.
“I will absolutely come [if SLC asks me to],” he said. “I am in this position today because of all the things I learned [from] playing cricket in Sri Lanka. After I learned everything in Sri Lanka for about 20 years, I went to Australia and learned things there as well. But if Sri Lanka invites me at any time, I will happily come back to do something for the country,” he added.
A lot like other former cricketers, Hathurusingha also raised questions over the number of teams in their first-class structure.
However, he pointed out that it was their school cricket structure that kept churning out good talent to hold the game in good stead.
“If there are 22 or 23 first-class sides in Sri Lanka, then that’s definitely not good,” he said.
“With the way that Sri Lanka is, I think there should be about 12 or 14 sides. But because school cricket is good here, players are still produced.
“In Bangladesh, there is a four-day tournament, a one-day tournament with about eight teams, and their BPL T20 tournament. Because of that, the good players become highlighted. In the last two years, I changed a lot of things in their club cricket, including their pitches,” Hathurusingha said.