Cricket: Sri Lankan Asanka Gurusinha Becomes First-Ever Foreign Coach For Nigerian National Teams

The Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) has appointed Sri Lankan Asanka Gurusinha to oversee the country’s national teams and would be unveiling him later in December in an event planned for Abuja.

The 54-year-old former Sri Lankan international becomes the first-ever expatriate to take charge of Nigeria’s cricket national teams in over a century of the sport’s existence in the country.

According to the NCF, Gurusinha will also head the high performance unit of the Federation and act as coach trainer and mentor to indigenous coaches.

A specialist left handed batsman in his playing days, Gurusinha enjoyed an 11-year international career, playing 41 Tests and 147 One Day Internationals.

He was a key member in the 1996 Cricket World Cup winning team for Sri Lanka, scoring 65 runs in the finals against Australia. He is a Level 3 certified coach, and was appointed the Cricket Manager for the Sri Lanka national team in 2017.

He has also served in the capacity as the Consultant Regional Coach for Cricket Australia.

NCF president Professor Yahaya Ukwenya, described the hiring as a big leap for cricket development in the country adding that the appointment was backed by Minister of Sport Sunday Dare.

“In the three years we have been privileged to lead the Cricket Federation, it has been very pleasing for us to move the sports from one level to the other,” Ukwenya said.

“First was the honour of securing a division one promotion for the country and again qualifying for the U-19 World Cup for the first time.

“These are special moments for us as a nation, especially the unique way that we announced ourselves to the World Cup stage. But since the Covid-19 forced lockdown we have concentrated on developing our personnel and facilities.

“And finally we are hiring a foreign coach to help bring together all our different developmental efforts together and channel them to purposeful end. The Honourable Minister, Sunday dare has been very supportive of our plans and his immeasurable support has been the energy behind our successes.”

Ukwenya said the coach’s vast experience and profile was a key factor in his appointment and he would be expected to revamp national teams’ strategies, improve performance at the elite level and improve the country’s World Cricket rankings.

“The appointment of Asanka marks another milestone in this administration’s desire to raise the standard of the game in the country both at the elite and development level, because Nigeria can no longer take a passing interest in World Cricket, we should be able to compete at all levels we play and not just make up the numbers,” Ukwenya said.

The official unveiling of the head coach is scheduled to take place on 8 December 2020 at the Velodrome, Moshood Abiola National Stadium Package A, Abuja.