A young and inexperienced Sri Lanka will face India in the three-match Twenty20 series commencing onTuesday. Along with the new players, it will also be a fresh start for their South African coach Graham Ford, who will take charge of Sri Lanka for a second time after being recently reappointed .
Ford coached Sri Lanka in 2012 when the team finished runners-up in the World T20. The side though has drastically changed, and problems have mounted along with it.
In the past few months, Sri Lankan cricket has faced a slew of allegations, be it about players partying late into the night on the recent New Zealand tour or infighting, failed drug test, suspect bowling action and corruption.
The team’s dismal form and a spate of injuries is another headache Ford will inherit. However, the 55-year-old is not alien to being in the midst of raging controversies.
In 2000, South Africa were on top their game, going through one of their most successful spells, with Ford at the helm. Under him, the team won six of the 11 series they played. However, soon after the highs came the lows as the team got embroiled in the infamous match-fixing scandal.
While Ford was in no way implicated of any wrongdoing, he was removed from his post in the aftermath.
Ford takes charge with the Sri Lanka sports minister having initiated an investigation into most of the allegations raised against the team.
Ahead of the series against India, Ford pointed to a long rebuilding process for Sri Lanka. “I am very aware what a huge challenge it is. Sri Lanka cricket finds itself in a very early stage of a very important rebuilding phase. A lot of hard work needs to be done,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s impressive home record took a hit last year following series defeats against India and Pakistan. Sri Lanka then travelled to New Zealand, where they were outplayed in all formats. The islanders are now down to seventh in the Test rankings although they are third in the T20 list.
His immediate concern is a strong India side that will take on his injury-depleted team. On Monday, another player broke down at the nets. Pacer Binura Fernando suffered a hamstring injury and will miss the series. Fellow pacer Shaminda Eranga has been called up.