Sports, Cricket

‘Aggression with psychological safety’: the Hathurusingha method

Published : 26 Mar 2023 09:29 PM

Bangladesh head coach ChandikaHathurusingha has deemed ‘psychological safety’ for the players as an appropriate tool to allow them to express themselves.

With Bangladesh playing an aggressive brand of cricket in the home series against England, Hathurusingha marked his return as head coach to the Bangladesh side after six years.

Bangladesh earned their maiden T20I series win over World Champions England after crashing to a 1-2 defeat in the ODIs. More recently, the hosts were dominant against Ireland in the three-match ODI series 2-0, and are firm favourites to clinch the T20I and the Test series as well.

“I don’t think anything has changed,” said Hathurusingha crisply. “They are the same players with same skills. Only the environment changed a little bit inside the dressing room and the way we speak and what we talk about. I tried to bring some psychological safety around the group and tell them that whether they do well or fail, they are valuable to us because of their skill set.

“’Psychological safety’ is the key term here. If you can create an environment where players can do their best without worrying about consequences and repercussion, that’s the biggest change from the management’s point of view. If they aren’t at the top of their game on some days, that’s alright.”

Aggression was the buzz word for Hathurusingha’s new regime, but he insists that this is not a new era in the national team’s growth, and that it has always been the way Bangladesh wanted to play their cricket.

“I don’t see this as a new era. That’s how we want to play our cricket going forward. We want to play aggressive cricket – it doesn’t mean we swing blindly. It’s aggressive in every sense of the word. We select (teams) aggressively, field placements, body language, tactics – holistic aggression. We want to play the best way we can. I think is when we play with freedom, we always do well.”

Hathurusingha added that Bangladeshi cricketers will only play in IPL after completing their national duty, and insisted that serving the country was their utmost priority.

Recently Bangladeshi cricketers Liton Das, Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman applied for leave from March 31 to May 28 to play in the IPL, suggesting that they would miss the one-off Test against Ireland, and the three ODI series which is a part of ICC Super League.

BCB earlier informed BCCI that their cricketers are available for a limited amount of time (April 8 to May 1, 2023) keeping international commitments in mind.

“I think the board’s decision is to prioritise your country. And board has given them the same message before they ask for NOC or before they put their name into the auctions,” said Hathurusingha. “Yeah, they can improve their skills playing the IPL for sure, but their number one priority is to play for your country.’

Hathurusingha added that they are not taking Ireland for granted, and that they are well aware that they might have to pay dearly for their complacency.

“No, no cricket match is easy. If we think that way, that’s going to bite us. We learned that very early in our careers. That’s why we love this game. We treat every opposition as the same, but we never fear them. That’s the mantra we follow.”