England’s new assistant coach Paul Farbrace will have “mixed feelings” about taking on former employers Sri Lanka next month but felt the chance to work with his own national side was too good to turn down.
Farbrace met up with returning head coach Peter Moores and a handful of players at the National Performance Centre in Loughborough on Thursday, just 24 hours after his release from Sri Lanka Cricket was completed.
The former Kent wicketkeeper had only been in his previous post since December, during which time he had led the Sri Lankans to success in the Asia Cup and World Twenty20.
His departure after such a brief but successful tenure, and on the eve of the Sri Lankans’ tour of Ireland and England, has caused some consternation in Colombo.
Farbrace, who also worked as Sri Lanka’s assistant coach before returning to work with Yorkshire’s second XI, admits the switch has come at an awkward time for all concerned but could not resist the lure of the England and Wales Cricket Board.
“It doesn’t look great from the outside, someone leaving a job after four months, and I understand from a Sri Lankan point of view that there is disappointment because it was a successful time,” he told BBC Radio Five.
“I understand there will be that disappointment but as I went back to explain to them on Monday, the opportunity to work with my own team, my own country, and be working from home was an offer I couldn’t really refuse.
“The opportunity to work with your own national team is almost beyond your wildest dreams. It’s a fantastic opportunity and a great time to be involved.
“There was some disappointment but most people in the room understood the situation. I like to think we finish on reasonably good terms.
“It will be interesting for me and the players that the series in a couple of weeks is against Sri Lanka and there will be some mixed feelings because I built some good relationships - not just this time but the previous time - with the players.
“As a coach you do make good, strong relationships and they’re not easy things to put to one side when you’re playing against them.”
Having had the details of his appointment ironed out in time to get to work with Moores this week, Farbrace is now enthused about the challenge ahead.
“I still feel I’m developing as a coach and I’ve got a lot to learn from someone like Peter Moores in this situation,” he said.
“I would like to think Peter will be in the job for many years to come and in a really successful period for England cricket, for the players and for Peter, and it would be great to be a to play a very small part in that.”
Atapattu will coach Sri Lanka during England and South Africa series
Former batsman Marvan Atapattu will coach Sri Lanka on the upcoming tour of England, it was announced on Friday.
The 43-year-old will step into the shoes of Paul Farbrace, who vacated the position on Wednesday in order to take up a place on the staff of new England coach Peter Moores.
The Sri Lanka Cricket Board confirmed the news in a short statement, adding that Atapattu would be assisted by Ruwan Kalpage, the former spinner and current fielding coach, for both the England series and the subsequent one against South Africa.
It gives Atapattu a chance to make a real claim for the job on a permanent basis, having been overlooked after an interview when Farbrace was given the position in December.
Atapattu played 90 Test matches for his country with an average of 39, scoring 16 hundreds along the way. He also won 268 one-day caps, scoring over 14,000 runs combined.
Sri Lanka head to Europe at the start of May for a two-match ODI series in Ireland, before a number of county commitments.
They will face first Farbrace in a Twenty20 clash on May 20, before five one-dayers and two Tests at Lord’s and Headingley.
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