Hathurusingha, take two: Keep calm and create a sustainable system for Bangladesh cricket

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"It has been very enjoyable this time I think. Because when I came this time, a lot of things were already known to me. I feel I was received better this time than the last time," Hathurusingha said.
"It has been very enjoyable this time I think. Because when I came this time, a lot of things were already known to me. I feel I was received better this time than the last time," Hathurusingha said. © AFP

Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusingha is a changed man, calmer to be precise. The Sri Lanka has managed to defy all kinds of apprehensions that were doing the rounds since Bangladesh Cricket Board decided tobring him back for his second term.

Hathurusingha returned amidst mixed feelings in the Bangladesh cricket fraternity as there were doubts whether his authoritarian ways that brought success the previous time would bear similar fruits this time around, considering Bangladesh cricket had moved far ahead since he was last on the job.

Hathurusingha was known to be a disciplinarian during his first stint and it did not take long for him to be labelled as an arrogant coach. Those claims were validated when he forced Shakib Al Hasan to return from the middle of his journey to the West Indies to play CPL in 2014. Shakib was eventually banned for six months for being involved in an argument with the head coach with regards to his participation in the league.

From that point of time till the day he left after completing his first tenure as Bangladesh head coach, he ran the show on his own terms. With his return now, there have been concerns that something similar might happen again. But he has dismissed all kinds of speculation with a brand new approach that seems to have taken his charges by surprise. Most of them now believe Hathurusingha is a changed man - calmer, more mature and understanding of the situation he has walked back into.

"Why (you feel I have become calmer), because I am smiling?," Hathurusingha told Cricbuzz. "The last time when I came I had to change a lot of things. The players never knew the things to change so I had to be little bit stern.

"The culture had to change. I am not saying it was a bad culture, but I didn't like it so I had to change it," he said. "This time when I came in, I was happy with what I have seen so I didn't have to change much and the board was giving me freedom. Before that the board also didn't know. Now I feel that they appreciate me and they understand why (I am doing what I am doing)," he said.

"It has been very enjoyable this time I think. Because when I came this time, a lot of things were already known to me. I feel I was received better this time than the last time," he said. "I'm probably five years more mature than last time. This time also I didn't have to change much because they know my side and the players have improved. The whole system has also improved.

"So I didn't have to do things differently. The only thing for me was to put some of the things in place and just to give the environment a little bit of shake-up and that's all. That's probably why they feel that I have become calm and I'm feeling the same as well," he said, adding that his vision and mission are completely different from his first tenure as Bangladesh head coach.

"The main thing I focused on coming in this time is that there are two challenges. One is we need an overall improvement. Last time was more like getting results straight away because I was not a known coach. Not many people knew me so I had to prove myself. This time it is not about proving, but about giving something sustainable for Bangladesh cricket so the approach is very different. So I'm looking for something like putting a good system in place so that it helps Bangladesh cricket for a long time and not stop after I leave," he said.

Hathurusingha also said that he is not the strict headmaster that he is perceived to be, but maintains the same philosophy that suggests that an individual is not bigger than the team.

"You can ask the players. I'm not that strict of a headmaster. What I like is that people follow good structure. If we do the process right, we will get result. Especially in a team game, individuals are not big. The team is the most important thing. If everybody understands that the team is number one and why we do everything towards the team and not for any individuals.

"Individuals can get highlighted through their performances but it doesn't mean that they have the right to do things against the team. So that is all my mantra is and maybe that's why you are saying headmaster," he said.

Hathurusingha is currently busy trying to figure out his best possible squad for the 50-over format, considering they are scheduled to play a white-ball series against Afghanistan followed by Asia Cup and three ODIs against New Zealand before the World Cup in India. He however, is well aware that they need to improve a lot in Tests and T20Is.

"We wanted to be ideally in the top three or top five (in Test). In the future, at the end of this cycle if we can get into the top five, it will be a big step and then ultimately beat the top three teams in Test cricket. In T20Is, we have a T20 World Cup coming up and I think we are a little bit behind in that format. We need to find our own way of playing because we have certain strengths and certain limitations which we can't change overnight for various reasons. We need to find our way of playing so it can be unique. If it works, it is okay. If it doesn't work, everybody will say why they are doing it," he said.

Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hasan during in exclusive interview with Cricbuzz insisted that Hathurusingha will not keep seniors who don't perform and the Sri Lankan added that he is well aware that senior cricketers are playing their last phase of international cricket though none of them have informed any such thing yet. The head coach is not worried with the transition phase that is likely to come after Shakib, Tamim, Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah walk away.

"They haven't told me anything yet (seniors about their retirement plan). Look I'm here for five months and it's not enough to prepare for that (having players to fill the void of the seniors) but you will ask another question why this guy is not playing and that guy is not playing so then that is the answer for you," he said.

"If players are pushing their places, I don't have to do it. The system will make that happen," he concluded.

From the looks of it, Hathurusingha seems equipped to handle the transition period of the national side - if senior players depart - with calmness and composure that's come to be associated with his second stint now.



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