Off-field distractions have created uncertainty – Chandika Hathurusingha

Do you feel you have a role beyond the coaching and cricket side of things with the way the team is now?

I think if I’m responsible for the outcome of matches, I have to do a much bigger role than this. If you look at the record, we were steadily improving. We were steadily establishing trust. We were establishing continuity, and the way we wanted to play. If you look solely at winning or losing, there are a lot of other things we can talk about. But if you look at my first six to eight months, there was a plan we were working towards.

You feel that it’s been thrown into chaos in recent months?

That’s a hard question. The answer is there. Do I have to say yes?

What does the team have to do in this coming series now?

Given the resources I’ve been given, I’ll try to do the maximum I can. I can’t give a prediction. Realistically, if the players are good enough to play here and compete, that’s what we’re looking to do. Our three frontline bowlers who would have played a role here in these conditions are injured. A few changes happened from the last three Test matches to here. We are very green.

You’ve just been removed as an on-tour selector, and it’s clear that those higher up at the board aren’t especially happy with you. Do you feel you had a role in those relationships breaking down?

It’s beyond my control. The board entrusted me with the selector-on-tour duties. That’s been taken away – they must have a reason. They way it was taken away is a bit questionable. It happened in the middle of a series. My disappointment is the way that happened – without much communication. That’s the question I have. At this stage I haven’t got any answers.

Were you shocked at Dinesh Chandimal’s exclusion for the series?

Yes, because I had no communication prior to that. I didn’t know that until I came to board the plane. In a tour like this, we need experience. It’s a vital thing in conditions like this. When Australia and South Africa come to the subcontinent, it’s the same thing. If you haven’t played here before, you struggle. Having played here before gives you a head start.

You’ve got a lot of young players. Who are you really relying on in this series?

I’m relying on the players who have been with us. Dimuth Karunaratne is the captain, so he has to lead from the front. He’s one of the best batters with Kusal Mendis. Him, Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella, who is in good form, have to stand up. Lahiru Thirimanne who has come back into the team, has a lot of experience. He has played since 2011 onwards. I think we have to rely on experience on this tour. Those guys have to to step up.