Cricket - Farbrace in frame ahead of series

Former Kent coach Paul Farbrace has become the frontrunner to take charge of the Sri Lanka national side after holding positive talks with the country's cricket board.

Farbrace, 46, is currently second XI coach at Yorkshire, who stated at the weekend they had "reluctantly" given him permission to discuss a soon-to-be-vacant role with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), who are losing Graham Ford to Surrey.

The man in the frame for Ford's job has also previously been in charge of the England women's side and had a spell as assistant coach with Sri Lanka from 2007 to 2009, during which time he suffered shrapnel wounds in a terrorist attack on the team's bus in Lahore.

Farbrace is keen to return to Sri Lanka in the role of head coach, and he met with senior SLC officials on Monday.

In a statement, Sri Lanka Cricket said: "SLC committee, which was headed by Mr Ranjith Fernando, the chairman of the cricket committee, had detailed discussions with Mr Farbrace pertaining to the head team coach position of the Sri Lankan national team.

"SLC vice-president Mohan De Silva, secretary Nishantha Ranatunga, treasurer Nuski Mohamed, CEO Ashley De Silva and head of coaching Jerome Jayaratne joined Mr Fernando for the meeting."

"A further round of talks is scheduled for next week between Mr Farbrace and SLC.

"A final decision on the appointment of the national head coach will be made later."

In the meantime, Sri Lanka face a Twenty20 international in Dubai on Wednesday when they tackle Pakistan.

Ford remains at the helm of the world's top-ranked T20 side and is seeking a positive start to a 10-match stretch against Pakistan, comprising of two games in cricket's shortest format, five one-day internationals and three Tests.

Ford said on gulfnews.com: "I think any tour or series you play, getting the initial upper hand is crucial. Psychologically, it makes a big difference. Especially when you are away from home, if you can draw first blood, you are up and away.

"Both teams have their eyes on the T20 World Cup ahead and some positive results here will give a good momentum. I think both teams will be very keen to get that positive momentum in their favour."

Sri Lanka are without their experienced batsman Mahela Jayawardene, who has elected to miss the series, and without him Ford is bracing his team for a challenging six weeks ahead.

"It is a huge loss because Mahela makes such a difference to the team in all areas," Ford said.

"It's fantastic to have him around the dressing room, and it's fantastic to have him out there in the middle. He is a cool head, a wise head and, of course, his batting makes a huge difference. It is tough not to have him around, but at the same time, Sri Lankan cricket needs to learn to get on without Mahela. All the players here are capable of putting in match-winning performances at this level."

Pakistan have called up 19-year-old left-arm pace bowler Usman Khan Shinwari at late notice for the T20 matches.