Colts Cricket Club’s head coach Muthumudalige Pushpakumara took a scathing attack on Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), before leaving for Kuwait to take the role of desert country’s Head Coach from October 15.
“The officials of SLC wants to recruit their loyalists for the vacancies without considering the experience and qualifications,” a disappointed Pushpakumara said.
Pushpakumara, 38, has been the Head Coach of the Colts for the past six years and has helped produce top class cricketers to the national side, Sri Lanka ‘A’ and the Emerging Team.
“In Sri Lanka, you have to go behind cricket board officials and politicians to get a posting at the cricket board. But I’m not a person like that. I want to do my duties as a professional,” said Pushpakumara.
An International Cricket Council (ICC) Level 3 Qualified Coach, Pushpakumara has contributed immensely to the Colts, the home for many top class cricketers such as former captain Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Kusal Janith Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, promising wicket-keeper batsman Sadeera Samarawickrama and ODI opener Avishka Fernando.
“It has been fantastic experience to coach a bunch of extremely talented cricketers. We have some really good players our ranks,” said Pushpakumara.
However despite his contributions as a coach at club levels, Pushpakumara never got a breakthrough at the national level–the main reason for his decision to leave the country.
“I have applied for several vacancies at SLC. But I never received a positive response for any of them.”
“I applied for the posts of Women’s Head Coach, Spin Bowling Assistant Coach of the Men’s team and also Spin Bowling Coach of Sri Lanka Youth Team. But there were no positive responses from SLC,” Pushpakumara added a day before getting on a flight to Kuwait.
Pushpakumara’s international cricketing career was curtailed with a career ending shoulder injury in 2010.
He was first included in the Sri Lanka squad for the tour of Pakistan in 2009 as an 18-year-old.
In 2010, he took part in Sri Lanka’s tour of South Africa and England, but could not break into the playing XI.
During his coaching stint at Colts, he influenced the team to become runners-up at two occasions in the SLC Premier Limited Over Tournament and guided the Under-23 team to the runners-up in Premier League Tournament.
Pushpakumara, who won the country’s 142nd One Day International cap, made his ODI debut during Sri Lanka’s tour of India in 2009.
Playing as an all-rounder, he last wore the Lankan jersey in 2010, also against India in the Tri-Nations series in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Former Ananda College cricketer, Pushpakumara shone for Sri Lanka at the 1999 Youth World Cup as a the frontline off-spinner in the side captained by Malintha Gajanayake. His youth teammates were Thilina Kandamby, Jehan Mubarak, Ian Daniel, Prabhath Nissanka and Akalanka Ganegama.
For his fantastic all-round performance, he earned a national call up during Sri Lanka’s tour of India in 2009 and played the debut match which was abandoned due to poor pitch preparations in Delhi.
When he played for Tamil Union, Pushpakumara represented the country in the ODIs.
He captained Tamil Union in the Premier Limited Over Tournament and earned the Player of Tournament in 2009, which he was given a chance to represent the country.
After playing three years at Tamil Union, he joined Colts Cricket and played first class cricket for seven years.
“The power of throw was drastically reduced from the injury I suffered in 2009 and unfortunately I was away from full time cricket since then. But I don’t want to end up disappointed as a coach too, so I will pursue what comes my way,” Pushapukumara added.