EXCLUSIVE: On a red-carpet reception day when two Sri Lankan players, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene hit out at Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) board over retirement issues, a former coach has complained the team should have received the ‘better treatment’ when the nation won the 50-over World Cup in 1996.
by BIPIN DANI
Sri Lanka’s World Cup 1996 winning coach however, remembers the days when the support-staff members were not ‘well treated’ by the SLC.
“This I am not saying in a complaining tone, neither we are beggars, but the fact is that there was no prize money for the members of the support-staff – me as a coach and Alex Konouri, the team physio, were only entertained at dinner”, he said. “Interestingly, the members of the winning team were gifted cars.
“With the intervention of ministers, the players were exempted to pay duty on those expensive cars, the cost of which then was $100,000 US for each car,” he added. “A few of them were even given land, but we are, however, not feeling bad as it is now a history.”
Kontouri, now Australian team’s senior physio, however can take consolation that Sri Lankan Cricket board has newly built training room named after him.
Whatmore was “pleasantly surprised” with the Sri Lankan team victory in the recently concluded ICC World Twenty20, but was “disappointed” with Team India’s defeat.
Whatmore was born in Sri Lanka (Ceylon then) 60 years ago. Having played seven Tests and one ODI for Australia, where he migrated during his childhood years, he returned to Sri Lanka as coach. Apart from being coach for the national teams in Bangladesh and Pakistan thereafter, he has also served as National Cricket Academy (NCA) coach and with Kolkata Knight Riders team in Indian Premier League in India.
“I have mixed feelings for both the teams. It was wonderful to see the Sri Lankan victory, but I was also sad when Team India lost only the final at the end after performing so well in all other matches.”
He has toured UAE, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Malaysia, to name a few, and contributes to a large number of newspapers in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
His twitter bio reads: Eat cricket stories, drink cricket stories, sleep cricket stories.