Atapattu resigns as Sri Lanka coach

Marvan Atapattu has resigned as Sri Lanka coach, Sri Lanka Cricket has announced. His resignation was accepted by the board. Neither the board, nor Atapattu has offered a reason for the decision. Atapattu had officially held the position since September last year, but had effectively been head coach since April 2014, after Paul Farbrace’s departure. Before that, he had worked as batting coach of the team since 2011. During his term as interim coach, he had overseen Sri Lanka’s first Test series win in England. He was Sri Lanka’s first full-time local coach in 15 years.

In the past 10 months, however, significant concerns over his coaching style have arisen. Atapattu is reputed to be an excellent technical coach, but is understood to have been less impressive as a man-manager – which was seen by the board as a particularly worrying trait, in Sri Lanka’s transition period. This perceived weakness, coupled with consistently poor results at the top level have likely paved the way for Atapattu’s exit. He has departed of his own volition, but did so after Sri Lanka failed to win a single series this year. The home ODI series victory against England late in 2014 remains the only trophy the team has won since Atapattu was formalised as head coach.

The resignation comes two days after the completion after a particularly dispiriting home season. Sri Lanka were defeated in four Tests out of six since June, losing to Pakistan and India. The only other time Sri Lanka lost two home series in a calendar year was back in 1993. Sri Lanka’s next international begins against West Indies in mid-October, but the board is unlikely to appoint a permanent coach before then. Some members of SLC’s interim committee are understood to have a favoured candidate in mind, but the board is likely to field applications. In the meantime, a local coach may take over in a temporary capacity. SLC’s head of coaching Jerome Jayaratne would seem to be the obvious choice.

Atapattu’s exit follows the resignation of Chaminda Vaas as fast-bowling coach following the World Cup this year. In his time as batting coach, Atapattu has overseen substantial improvement in Angelo Mathews’ batting, but has had mixed results with other young batsmen. In addition to the Test series win in England, Sri Lanka also won a World T20, and Asia Cup, and a Test match in South Africa during his time with the side. Atapattu led Sri Lanka in 18 Tests during his playing career. He has 90 Test matches and Test 5502 runs to his name.

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