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Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 14:20 UK

Twenty20 helps Farbrace recovery

By Gemma Sterba

Paul Farbrace
Farbrace needed two operations to remove shrapnel from his arm

The English cricket coach who survived a gun attack in Pakistan earlier this year has admitted that many of the Sri Lanka players are still haunted by the events of Tuesday, 3 March.

Paul Farbrace was with the team as assistant coach when gunmen targeted their bus.

It was travelling under police escort to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore when it came under attack.

Seven people were killed, and eight members of the cricket team were hurt, although they all survived

Farbrace, 41, received shrapnel wounds to his right arm.

In their first competitive game since the shooting, Sri Lanka beat Australia in emphatic style in the ICC World Twenty20, inflicting an early exit from the competition on Ricky Ponting's men.

But as the team bus pulled up for the game against the Aussies at Trent Bridge, the former Kent coach said that for some players the bad memories came flooding back.

"During the first bus journey on match day there were one or two apprehensive and nervous people," Farbrace told BBC Radio Kent.

"I think the fact that we're in England helped. The security around our team has been fantastic.

"The guys have moved on from it. We've got a few new faces in this team that weren't with us in Lahore. That's been really good because they didn't suffer.

"I think the good thing is that no one is using it and making excuses. I think all of us know that actually we were the lucky ones.

"Whenever we think about Lahore, our thoughts go back to some of the horrendous pictures we saw of policemen laying dead in the street in pools of blood.

"You can only imagine what their families went through in that situation. That must have been absolutely horrendous."

Farbrace left his job at Canterbury two years ago to take up his post with Sri Lanka.

And the former Middlesex wicketkeeper admitted that being on home soil with a foreign side in the World Twenty20 is a special experience.

Sri Lankan cricketers under fire

"It's been fantastic," said Farbrace. "From my point of view being back in England with a touring team is a little bit strange but at the same time the atmosphere at the grounds is great.

"It's almost like being at a football match in terms of constant noise. It's a short game so even people in the stands can keep their intensity of noise and support up.

"We've got a great following here, there are a lot of Sri Lankans living in England and they've turned out in their numbers."

And with many tipping either India or South Africa to triumph in the tournament, Farbrace sees his side as a dark horse.

"Before we came I said I thought there were four teams that had a chance of winning it - Australia, South Africa, India and us.

"The reason I think we've got a genuine chance is because we've got such a varied bowling attack and our top four batters are as good as any top four in world cricket at the minute.

"South Africa are a very powerful side and India are a fantastic team who are playing good cricket with a lot of confidence.

"I thought Australia would be a force to be reckoned with, but as was proved they're very quickly looking forward to two weeks rest and relaxation in Leicester."

England and Sri Lanka are in opposite groups for the Super Eight phase, but if they are brought together in the latter stages of the tournament, the Englishmen is clear where his allegiances lie.

"As long as we beat England I hope they enjoy their day out," said Farbrace.

"When we played England in the Test series in Sri Lanka, Michael Vaughan was the captain and on the morning of the first test in Kandy, he asked me who I wanted to win.

"I replied: 'Sri Lanka'. He said: 'No no, you can still do your job, but want us to win,' and I said 'No you can't.'

Sangakarra reflects on attacks in Lahore

"I am 100% committed to Sri Lanka and I want Sri Lanka to win whether we're playing England or anyone else.

"You can't work in a sporting environment and hope that your team does well against your home country.

"You have to be totally committed, because if you're not, your heart's not in it. I certainly won't have any sleepless nights if we knock England out."

Farbrace himself never got to represent England during his playing days, and back then, he never dreamt he would one day be involved at the highest level.

"To be talking about some legends of the game about how they should be bowling at the likes of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and people like that, for a cricket fan and someone that loves sport generally it's a dream job," he said.

"I've learnt so much about the game of cricket in the two years I've been working with Sri Lanka. I've learnt a lot about myself in terms of having to live in different circumstances and slightly out of my comfort zone.

"At the same time you're living in five-star hotels, travelling business class and you're working with some of the best players in the world so it's very difficult not to enjoy that."

So whether or not Kumar Sangakkara gets to lift the ICC World Twenty20 trophy for Sri Lanka on 21 June, Farbrace concluded that events in Lahore have made everyone associated with Sri Lankan cricket appreciate their role in the sport they love.

"Every game that the team play, and every day the team spend together, they're grateful that they're alive and they're able to get on and play."



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