By Pranavesh Sivakumar
The new appointee for the emerging squad Ruwan Kalpage came hard on the strictly adhered – fitness test – claiming and criticising that he dislikes the modus operandi of this fitness test affair.
“I don’t like the way, they handle the fitness test. When having a trainer appointed for me, my trainer should be running the fitness, not someone else running for my boys,” he told the Sunday Times yesterday.
He was of the stance, too many cooks are spoiling the soup, whereas, it should only be designated trainers for each of the national team, running it.
“Fitness test for my team should be run by me and my trainer (Gayan Weerarathna). And, I submit to my authority,Tim McCaskill. Selectors take that report and take a call. Those are the guidelines,” he said of the way it ought to be run.
“I don’t want anybody else running the fitness test for my team,” he asserted firmly.
Kalpage continued when given a trainer, his trainer should be in-charge of it in the track provided.
Shedding light on his objective of taking over the side for the first time, he also said the players picked for the newly formed emerging squad will be handled and coached with the objective of being promoted to the national side
“I know people (fans) are frustrated here in Sri Lanka, because of the present standings no. 7 (test), no. 8 (one-day) and no.10 (T20). I’ve got an opportunity of impartation of knowledge to the next level of cricketers. I’ve taken as a positive note to make a change,” Kalpage, 52, added.
Though, it is only for the first time Kalpage has been entrusted with the emerging, originally he had applied to become the national head coach. After being turned down for that, he was approached and offered this.
“They wanted to see a local person coming in to handle the next generation of national cricketers. They’ve taken my post as a very important role to develop cricketers and develop coaching set-up,” he self-assessed of his role.
“But in Sri Lanka, it’s my country and I don’t think anybody can teach me how to run cricket here in my country, even though there are still some people are trying to do by bringing in international expertise,” Kalpage asserted.
“Whereas, they have worked only for one or two years and are trying to teach us how it should be ran. I played and coached enough and I know where I stand and in what way I’ve to take it,”
The former national cricketer declared, he accepted the offer on the mission of developing the next generation of cricketers, which is lacking at the moment.
Having joined in 2001, he has been part of multiple units in multiple capacities in his years-long association with Sri Lanka Cricket though; it was a stop-start journey with his home side. In between, he had also served Oman and Bangladesh, despite with the latter, getting terminated for no-show.
He said players need to be presented with the best environment and free mind to perform and that would be his responsibility as the head coach.
“I don’t have big plans. My intention is to coach the senior team, that’s my dream. I’ve played in the higher level, coached five world cups. In this tour, since a tour guideline has not been issued by the UK, they have gone up until U25. So we have picked players from U25. They’re the next generation cricketers for Sri Lanka very soon. I have clearly told the selectors that I like to work with them for the next 12 to 18-months,”
From the existing 25-member pool, it will be pruned down to 18-members, based on the fitness test.
The emerging squad’s first assignment, consisting of three four-dayers and as many T20’s versus England, is set to start in early-May. The visitors would be taking wings come Sunday (1).
Ambidextrous Kamindu Mendis, the National Super League four-day-winning captain, would be leading the side.
Kalpage along with his main duties, would be also juggling spinning and fielding duties, as he has been originally a spin specialist when he performed for local and overseas teams.
Malinda Warnapura would be the batting coach. Chamila Gamage would be responsible for fast-bowling while Vinothan John will be the manager. However, though, all these coaching staff barring him, would only be for this one-off English tour, Kalpage revealed.