'I am not emotional'
During Bangladesh's ill-fated tour of South Africa last year, there was one request repeated to the team management by the touring reporters and that was to make then head coach Chandika Hathurusingha available for a press conference. But since facing the media before the first Test in late September, before the one-way hammerings commenced, no amount of cajoling could get the Sri Lankan in front of the cameras and microphones. He has since quit the post, which meant that those pleas were to remain unfulfilled.
Yesterday, however, as the new coach of Sri Lanka, who are in Dhaka to participate in a tri-series also involving the hosts and Zimbabwe, it was a smiling Hathurusingha who walked out for the first pre-series press conference. In typical fashion however, his appearance shed no real light on why he actually left his post two years before his contract was due to expire.
He left after Bangladesh's worst series in a decade, and also without submitting the customary formal coach's report at the end of the tour. When asked if the manner of his departure was irresponsible, his response was typically confounding.
“I don't think so. Otherwise I wouldn't leave,” deadpanned Hathurusingha. “I am not a very emotional person. I am not much emotionally attached. I still want Bangladesh to do well. I wish the players well. I worked with them closely and got to know them really well. At the same time, I want Sri Lanka to do well.”
There had been murmurs and manifestations of discontent within the team under Hathurusingha, who was often rumoured to be a stern coach who juniors were afraid of approaching. The manifestation was a public one, with then Test skipper Mushfiqur Rahim publicly lashing out at the team management during and after the crushing loss in the second Test in Bloemfontein. Considering the history, the clash between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh might be expected to be a heated one, but Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza seemed to have his poker face on when asked about his former coach, under whom the Tigers have had the most success.
“It is good to be smart in cricket, but not over-smart," said Mashrafe when asked if they will do anything different to counter the Sri Lankan's insights into the home team. “Our dressing room has a large heart. On behalf of the Bangladesh players, I salute Hathurusingha. We got success playing under him. I have no problem in giving him credit but we executed on the 22 yards.
"The coach didn't have to do anything special to Tamim [Iqbal], Mushfiqur [Rahim], Shakib [Al Hasan] or Mustafizur [Rahman]. They did it themselves. He will have his plans but so will we. If we can execute our plans, I am sure we can offer something new. There may be risks but we will still try to do that.”