Sri Lanka Cricket has roped in Grant Luden to their coaching staff ahead of the two Test series against England. South African Luden has worked with several international teams and will function as SLC’s trainer. SLC sources said that Luden was set to join in November last year, but his recruitment was delayed due to the pandemic.
Luden entered the Sri Lankan team’s bubble in South Africa and arrived in the island in the chartered flight that carried the Sri Lankan team and he is at present in Galle with the team.
Luden is credited for raising Pakistan’s fielding standards as they went onto win the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017. During his time in Pakistan, he doubled up as Fielding and Conditioning Coach working alongside current Head Coach Mickey Arthur.
SLC sources said that Luden’s ‘tough guy’ reputation was one main reason for them to hire him. There have been question marks about Sri Lankan cricketers’ fitness standards in the last five years. The issue came to the attention of the Sports Ministry as well in 2017. Guidelines were issued by the Ministry to the national selection panel indicating minimum fitness standards for selection. This resulted in a run-in between then Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara and Lasith Malinga.
Sri Lanka are staying in the posh Le Grand in Galle where a room costs more than Rs. 40,000 per night. The hotel is a stone’s throw away from the Galle International Stadium. England are a bit further away at the more spacious Light House, where they stayed during their visits to Galle since 2001.
Sri Lanka’s training session was cancelled yesterday as it rained the whole day in Galle. The team was forced to stay indoors. England, who spent their quarantine and early training in Hambantota, reached Galle on Saturday. They had a day off yesterday.
Meanwhile SLC has allowed players families to enter the bubble. Some players have been away from their families since early December when they entered into a bubble for the LPL and then travelled to South Africa for the two Test series.
The opening Test match between the teams will get underway on the 14th of January. Both Tests will be played in Galle. Sri Lanka will travel to West Indies soon after the England series and on return will host Bangladesh. All the postponed series of last year due to the pandemic will be played this year.