Former Sri Lankan opening batsman Avishka Gunawardene has been appointed as the coach of the Sri Lankan A team while Roy Dias, a veteran test batsman, has been appointed as the coach of the under 19 team according to a media release by Sri Lanka Cricket.
Sri Lanka cricket had been head hunting for a coach for their A side for a long time with Dave Whatmore being the most sought out coach. However, it seems that negotiations with the world cup winning, former coach of Sri Lanka have failed to bear fruit as the board has been forced to settle for the former assistant coach of the Sri Lankan under 19 team.
Avishka Gunawardene, a dashing left-handed batsman known for his leg-side sixes, was the head coach of the Sinhalese Sports Club for 9 successive seasons and was the director of cricket at Royal College, Colombo before burdening his shoulders with national duties.
A product of Ananda College, Avishka had a rather brief ODI career thanks to the presence of another left-handed rambunctious opener, Sanath Jayasuriya, in the national team.
Roy Dias, who has been appointed as the coach of the under 19 team, is a seasoned coach, who already has experience in coaching international teams like Nepal and Malaysia. A veteran of 20 tests- a stunted number owing to Sri Lanka having no test status during most part of his career, Roy Dias was one of the most elegant batsmen to have graced the cricketing field.
Despite beginning his test career with a duck, Dias unleashed his crafty batsmanship in the second innings scoring 77. The maestro hit twin fifties in Sri Lanka’s first test win and then went onto glide through an exquisite 106 to help Sri Lanka win the series against the neighbours across the Palk Strait.
Dias unsurprisingly was the first Sri Lankan batsmen to reach 1000 runs in tests and finished his career with 1285 runs under his belt in tests.
The Sri Lankan A team has an overhanging tour of England while the under 19 team is awaiting tours to England and South Africa. Sri Lanka Cricket is in the process of injecting stability into the ailing cricket structure and has already completed a province based tourney for under 19 cricketers. The appointment of Avishka and Dias comes as yet another attempt to resuscitate the falling standard of cricket in Sri Lanka.