ANDREW FIDEL FERNANDO
Sri Lanka Cricket has appointed Kent coach Simon Willis to the post of high performance manager. Willis – who has been involved at Kent for 23 years, becoming the county’s high performance director in 2009 – will oversee SLC’s cricket academy based in Khettarama and play a key role in identifying talent and developing cricketers within the Sri Lankan system. He takes up his new position on June 1, having been specifically sought out for this job by the board.
“I am very grateful to Sri Lanka Cricket for offering me this exciting new opportunity,” Willis said. “I see it as an exciting time to get involved with Sri Lanka Cricket and I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”
Kent won the T20 cup in 2007 and were finalists in two one-day tournaments in 2008, during which time Willis worked under Graham Ford, Sri Lanka’s current coach. When Willis moved on to the post of high performance director, Paul Farbrace, the former Sri Lanka coach, became Kent’s head coach. Farbrace and Willis are understood to have worked closely together for two years. Willis also played a leading role in launching the county’s cricket academy in 2003.
Willis holds a number of coaching qualifications, including the ECB’s Level 4 certificate, a Level 4 specialist wicketkeeping qualification, and a Level 3 certificate for coach education. His work as a coach educator is understood to have impressed Sri Lanka’s board, who had sought someone capable of developing coaches as well as players. He will report to the SLC CEO, and work in coordination with current head of coachng Jerome Jayaratne.
Willis played 16 first-class matches for Kent as a wicketkeeper-batsman.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando