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Sri Lanka’s newly appointed High Performance Manager Simon Willis speaks to the media at a press briefing held at SLC | (Pic by Venura Chandramalitha)

Sri Lanka’s need to hire a high performance coach became urgent when their cricket team was found wanting after the retirement of Mahela Jayawardane and Kumar Sangakkara. When some of the players, selected on preference rather than on performance, failed to produce the results, it is the national team that had to face humiliation in the hands of their opponents.

Considering this fact Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) a few days ago announced the hiring of a high performance coach in Simon Willis. He  is a level 4 qualified coach and who has worked with Kent for 23 years as a player and coach.

Willis said that he was excited about the opportunity received to serve Sri Lanka and develop their cricket. He said that he is amazed at working with players with unusual actions­­—examples he gave were of Muralidaran and Malinga—and said this fact had attracted him to take the job.

Willis will be working to revamp the coaching department and restructure the organisation in the next three years. He will work with the coaches and the urgent need will be to strengthen the bench players who can be strong replacements.

They will pick more players who will be offered competition to play against each other. Those who are consistent will be exposed, early in their career, to develop their skills under different conditions.

Coaches will also have to cultivate a close relationship with the players to study their character as well and develop their mental strength.

“Players will have to make mistakes, so that they can be corrected and developed in the next two or three years. These players will be identified and given more competition that will take them closer to the door of national team,” said Willis.

The high performance coach will be in Sri Lanka until the next World Cup is played in England in 2019. He hopes that the players will be able to face the challenge, tough competition, which is expected at that level.