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Bangladesh butchered World Cup hopes by returning to a failed Sheffield Shield batting coach - and it's too late to fix it

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Roar Guru
28th September, 2023

The ICC 2023 Cricket World Cup is less than a week away. For Bangladesh, this was set to be their moment to shine and do well in an ICC tournament after a steady decade in ODI cricket. Confidence was sky high in Bangladesh cricket after defeating South Africa in South Africa 2-1 in an ODI series during March 2022.

Yet the man who led Bangladesh to that famous series victory, Tamim Iqbal, is not on the plane to India as part of the Tigers’ World Cup squad. There are many problems in Bangladesh cricket and not all of them will be solved in a day. But one problem that has been created is the reappointment of Chandika Hathurasingha as head coach.

Hathurasingha was given god status in Bangladesh during his first stint as coach with the following his achievements between 2014-2017.

Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan and Masrafe Mortaza of Bangladesh

(Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

2015 ICC Cricket World Cup quarter finalists, 2016 Asia Cup runners up, 2017 ICC Champions Trophy semi finalists, home ODI series wins against Pakistan, India and South Africa between April-July 2015 and Test victories over England, Sri Lanka and Australia between October 2016-August 2017.

But then it all went sour for Hathurasingha and what would occur in his coaching career. Following a disastrous tour of South Africa in late 2017, Hathurasingha had called it quits as Bangladesh coach. Soon after, the former Sri Lankan cricketer was coaching the nation he had played for.

He first convinced Angelo Mathews by January 2018 to retake the captaincy reigns in ODI cricket six months after Mathews had resigned. It was the right move. Sri Lanka had used five different captains since Mathews resigned for the rest of 2017. Hathurasingha needed a stable leader until the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup would end.

By September 2018, Angelo Mathews was no longer captain of Sri Lanka in the ODI format after Sri Lanka were knocked out in the group stages of the Asia Cup. Mathews was quick to hit back at the Sri Lankan Cricket Board and offered to retire from white ball cricket altogether, before being removed from the Sri Lankan ODI team soon after, such was the circus that continued to go around in Sri Lankan cricket.


Mathews continued to fight for himself, revealing in a 2019 interview that Hathurasingha had apologised to him for the farce that had occurred to the former skipper. Mathews is still playing international cricket for Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan veteran has played 106 Tests to date alongside 299 limited overs games for his nation.

Angelo Mathews

Angelo Mathews. (Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP / Getty Images)

As for Hathurasingha, he had lost his role as selector by January 2019 and his contract as Sri Lanka’s head coach was terminated by January 2020.

In July 2020 he returned to New South Wales, where he had previously been assistant coach. This time, the former Sri Lankan cricketer was appointed as NSW and Sydney Thunder’s batting coach.

NSW’s batting standards went down the gutter, with the Blues being bowled out for less than 100 twice, bowled out for scores of 100 to below 200 four times and only scoring 400+ in games on the flat wickets of Park 25 in Adelaide in the 2020/21 Sheffield Shield season.

Things didn’t get better the following Shield season, with the Blues being bowled out for less than 200 four times while only passing 300 just once. Hathurasingha stayed as the Blues batting coach halfway through the 2022/23 Sheffield Shield season, with the Blues scoring 300+ just once, bowled out for less than 100 once and for below 200 four times. Yet it was coach Phil Jacques that was given the flick instead of Hathurasingha, who was hardly put under the microscope by the media and NSW cricket.


Hathurasingha was fortunate to get two months notice to leave NSW cricket which meant he was likely to have been in talks with the Bangladesh Cricket Board.

Indeed, he was announced as Bangladesh head coach in late January 2023. The fact Bangladesh was in talks with Hathurasingha when Russell Domingo was still the head coach of Bangladesh shows the lack of respect the BCB had for Domingo.

Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh celebrates running out Sean Williams of Zimbabwe.

Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh celebrates running out Sean Williams of Zimbabwe. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Domingo would resign in December 2022, having been a part of Bangladesh rising their stocks in the ODI format as he prioritised playing three seamers in as many ODI games as possible and at least two seamers per Test.

Under Domingo’s watch, Bangladesh won their first Test on New Zealand shores and an ODI series in South Africa. Granted, the results weren’t always great under his watch, but Bangladesh were building for long term success, and a chance to compete hard for the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup.

Under Hathurasingha’s watch, Bangladesh has lost all of their ODI series against nations that will be playing in the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup (England, Afghanistan and New Zealand).

To make things worse, all these series losses were on home soil. Internal politics have ruined the team, with Tamim Iqbal announcing his retirement from international cricket in July 2023.


A day later, after the intervention of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Iqbal decided to play his uno reverse card and be available for international cricket. Despite returning from injury, many within the BCB questioned Iqbal’s fitness and the man who was set to lead Bangladesh into the World Cup won’t be flying to India as a player.

What Iqbal is going through right now is similar to what Mathews went through five years ago, except this is arguably worse because Iqbal may never play international cricket again. The common denominator in both cases is one man, and a power hungry one in Chandika Hathurasingha. And for that, the BCB president Nazmul Hasan Papon has to hold himself responsible.

Mushfiqur Rahim

Mushfiqur Rahim. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Nazmul Hasan Papon isn’t a clown. He is the entire circus. The BCB president continues to interfere in team selection instead of letting the selectors do their job, while doing interviews with media outlets about how senior players have grudges held against each other before big series.

Bangladesh was set to go into the World Cup as a dark horse. They had a solid core group to build their team upon, the younger players had gained experience from the 2019 edition in the likes of Liton Das and Mehidy Hasan Miraz while the rise of Nazmul Hossain Shanto was a great sight for Bangladesh, not to forget the rise of Bangladesh’s seam attack, with Charl Langeveldt, Otis Gibson and now Allan Donald doing a wonderful job as bowling coach.

Instead, Bangladesh go without the coach who was setting them for long term success and have hired their ex thinking that he is an upgrade. Iqbal has been replaced as captain by superstar Shakib Al Hasan who despite his accolades seems to be on a power trip, indirectly calling out Iqbal’s fitness in interviews while skipping many international tours when he was fully fit. Talk about hypocrisy.

Hathurasingha has definitely had his good moments in coaching roles. But those days are long gone. And Bangladesh are set to pay for it hard in the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup.


The only way Hathurasingha can save his job is if Bangladesh somehow makes the semi finals of the World Cup. Judging by his coaching career graph, that seems highly unlikely.