Former South African wicket-keeper Nic Pothas knows the Sri Lankan players well. Photo: Reuters

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Tuesday placed the national cricket team in the charge of fielding coach Nic Pothas before finding a replacement for Graham Ford who prematurely ended his contract last week.

Sri Lanka Cricket chief Thilanga Sumathipala said the 43-year-old former South African wicketkeeper-batsman will be responsible for preparing the team for two upcoming tours by Zimbabwe and India.

“Nic has been with our team since August (as fielding coach) and he knows the players well,” Sumathipala told AFP. “He is very good with the team and I am confident he can do a very good job.”

Ford quit 15 months into his four-year contract, just two weeks after the team's early exit from the Champions Trophy this month.

The 56-year-old said in a statement after leaving Sri Lanka that he was ending his second stint with the team after a “decision arrived at mutually.”

Sumathipala said Pothas was being considered for promotion as the permanent head coach while the cricket board had several expressions of interest from unidentified coaches to take up the job. Those interested in the high profile position were “Sri Lankans,” he added.

He declined to identify the other candidates, but said “Pothas is a strong contender for the job.”

Ford, who was previously with Sri Lanka from 2012 to 2014, had said he faced a huge rebuilding task when he returned to the team in February last year, when the islanders had dropped down the rankings.

Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga compared the national sports minister to a monkey. Photo: Reuters


Sri Lanka failed to reach the semi-finals of this month's eight-team Champions Trophy in England, and there have been recriminations with the country's sports minister Dayasiri Jayasekera accusing the players of being too fat.

Meanwhile, fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who compared Jayasekera to a monkey for criticising the fitness of the national players, had pleaded guilty to breaching his contract with the board, Sumathipala said.

“He was not supposed to speak publicly and we gave him a charge sheet for breaching provisions of his contract,” Sumathipala said. “He pleaded guilty and we will decide on a punishment shortly.”

However, he will not be dropped from the upcoming five ODI matches against Zimbabwe, Sumathipala said adding that he was likely to be slapped with a fine.

Sri Lanka play their first ODI against Zimbabwe at Galle on Friday.


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