Coach Graham Ford returned to the island for another important assignment in early 2016 when the team was struggling with transition after the retirement of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena and Tillakaratne Dilshan. Considering the side’s current form, Ford has done an outstanding job in all departments of the game.
With a few crucial wins under the belt, the young Sri Lankan side rests as a very competitive unit ahead of the all-important ICC Champions Trophy in England later this year.
“We lack for nothing in terms of resources. It is just about getting the mindset right now,” said Graham Ford who with confidence.
However, according to Sidath Wettimuny, a few late hiccups have come in Ford’s way. It’s quite likely that his departure will dent the side’s progress.
“I see some worrying signs now. I have the greatest respect for Asanka Gurusinha as a batsman [but] I was at the Dambulla match and I see him in the middle of the ground talking to Sanath Jayasuriya and two players. I did not see the coach anywhere! I see a problem there. You see, you got a coach and you got a cricket manager, I do not know whether the functions of these two are defined clearly. The way I see it — I am just guessing — Graham Ford won’t last long. He is going to be an unhappy man, if he is going to see somebody else taking cricketing decisions,” said Wettimuny (The Sunday Times).
In 2012, Graham Ford replaced Geoff Marsh as the Sri Lankan coach for the very first time. However, later that year, he left the side to join Surrey Cricket Club. His place was permanent as he was doing a very good job in England. But, Surrey batsman Kumar Sangakkara’s influence led the South African back to Sri Lanka. It was one of the toughest decision of his life.
“Going back to coach Sri Lanka was something I had to think long and hard about because I was really enjoying what was going on at Surrey. But in the end – weighing all sorts of things up – I decided that at this stage of my career it would be nice to take on a huge challenge, in that there’s a lot of improvement that’s required. But I think good things can be achieved with the kind of attitudes and the kinds of people that I work with,” said Graham Ford.
Graham Ford made his debut for Natal B in 1982/83 as an effective right-handed batsman who bowled right-arm off spin. He represented the side in seven games. Ford was a former provincial tennis champion and a skillful football player as well.
In 1992, he made his coaching debut by taking over Natal. Six years later, he became assistant to South African coach Bob Woolmer. He was appointed head coach after Woolmer’s departure. He lost his job in 2002 but the Indian Cricket Board requested for his service five years later. Ford refused due to personal reasons.
“I am not fussy about what sort of role I have. At that particular time, I had a very young family and to make it work it was always going to be difficult. But to be involved with any good group of cricketers is what I love and is my passion. I don’t mind where in the world that is but I’ll be enjoying it,” he said.
Ford’s current contract with Sri Lanka Cricket runs beyond the 2019 World Cup but he will certainly feel the pressure as the young side attempts to come out of transition. A good performance in the upcoming Champions Trophy will surely help the side and the coach as well.
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