Egad, an Englishman coaching England? I’ve a better idea

Bob Woolmer has admitted an interest in the England job, and Allan Donald has come out in support of his application. Donald is well qualified to talk about Woolmer given their long association both for Warwickshire and South Africa. And Woolmer’s track record for South Africa and Pakistan speak for themselves. Pakistan is a reasonable chance of challenging for the 2007 World Cup, and have just leveled the current series in South Africa.

But here’s a thought out of left field. Maybe Australia should try to poach him first. There’s absolutely no reason why an Englishman can’t have a leading role in Australian cricket. And there’s no doubt that from a professional point of view, coaching the best side in the world would be a new experience.

I’m not saying that Australia should definately go down that path. But I think it is an idea that merits some consideration, as well.

Dump Duncan?

I must say, this has been brewing in the back of my mind since England lost the first one-dayer at Lord’s. But I avoided mentioning it in either of my verdicts as I felt it was not only premature, but too controversial. Enter Tim de Lisle who, handily, has done it for me, and rather more directly and eloquently too:

6. Replace the coach
Some players are just better suited to Test than one-day cricket. Some coaches are too. Duncan Fletcher was a handy one-day player himself for Zimbabwe, but his style as a coach – patient, methodical, painstaking – is better geared to Test cricket. With the help of central contracts, four-day cricket, Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan, he has changed the culture of the Test team. But he hasn’t done much for the one-day side. He should either have a rethink or step aside for someone with a real feel for the one-day game. It could be someone Fletcher would approve of, like Andy Flower, already a mentor to Chris Read and Alistair Cook. Or it could be someone Fletcher wouldn’t approve of at all, like Adam Hollioake. Desperate times, desperate measures.

Who to pick? Matthew Maynard, who some believe is the main in waiting for the top job? Tim’s right: Fletcher is too calm and methodical a coach to be sufficiently proactive (not reactive) in a one-day series. That’s the impression I get, anyway.

Gough to replace Cooley?

Scott mentioned that Darren Gough won the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing competition and, hot on the dancing heels of that comes the news of Steve Harmison calling for twinkle-toes to replace Troy Cooley. Bit soon, I’d say – but not a bad call for the future, I reckon. He’s not dumb, Darren.

Foreigners in West Indian Cricket

Tony Becca is ranting about the influx of foreigners in West Indian Cricket

As concerning as this must be, I can’t help thinking: “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” I sympathise especially with his point about nurses and teachers, many of whom go to America and Britain where they are paid far better:

Apart from the embarrassment of so many white foreigners in West Indies cricket and the reminder of the days which so many had thought were behind us, the second thing it is saying to me is that the West Indies, this West Indies that is short of so many basic facilities for its people, that cannot pay its teachers enough to keep them at home, is so rich that it can afford to pay a team of Australians to teach West Indians how to play cricket.

By white foreigners, I assume he’s talking about the Australians who are now “in charge” of it, rather than white foreign players (unless anyone knows different?). The most confusing part of the article is this:

It needs to understand that West Indies cricket is not a franchise like the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Yankees, like Real Madrid or Manchester United; it needs to understand that it is a team selected from West Indians ­ and West Indians only; it needs to understand that no one can build a strong West Indies team by developing West Indies players only; it needs to understand that any attempt to build a strong West Indies team by concentrating only on the West Indies team will end up making it weaker if only because there will be no continuity ­ no one waiting in the wings; and regardless of all what is being said re: the abundance of talent around, it needs to understand that West Indies cricket is weak.

Who else can they pick if they are not to develop West Indies players only? I don’t understand what he means at all. And I find it worrying that people like him are voicing their distaste in having foreign coaches. Australians (and Irishmen!) are keen to help West Indian Cricket, to get it back to a reasonable standard. Surely the very fact that they’ve (WICB) had to employ Australians (and I think it’s worth noting that they are Australian) shows a) an admittance of how desperate they are and b) how committed they must be in improving and developing West Indian Cricket.

Just look at how Rod Marsh has helped English Cricket. And Duncan Fletcher. We were initially sceptical at Fletcher – but after the horrors and nightmares of Ray Illingworth and David Lloyd, he’s brought professionalism and respect back to English Cricket. The Aussie coaches, managers and physios will probably do the same to West Indian Cricket…we hope.

Hat tip: Ryan

Thorpe to play for NSW

Didn’t see this coming – Graham Thorpe’s accepted an offer to play for New South Wales in Australia, as a precursor to getting a coaching qualification. So, it looks like he could well retire from International Cricket come September. He’ll make his 100th Test in the 2nd Test against Bangladesh.

Greg Chappell new Indian Coach

Beating off all his many rivals, Greg Chappell has been named the new Indian Coach. No doubt Jagadish will have something to say about this…I’m off for a few days :)

Mickey Arthur (WHO?) new South African coach

Mickey Arthur, made famous in recent days for being, erm, well, because no one knew who he was. And no one knows much more now, either. And he’s now head coach of the South African Cricket team! Hopefully we’ll learn more about him in the next few months, and why he is a better coach than old Ray Jennings.

I’m still not convinced South Africa are “back on track.” Any win, especially a series win, is a good win…but against the worst West Indian side in history (even worse than when England played them), and one of the worst International sides playing at the moment, it isn’t much to write home about.

South African Cricket didn’t take well to England beating them – and bear in mind, England were only playing to 60% of their potential and virtually without Stephen Harmison – as their record at home had been impenetrable, for years. And Ray “killer” Jennings really didn’t help matters, despite what he says today:

He said ahead of Arthur’s appointment: “I could write a chapter on how each player has sharpened up and I believe I’ve added value.

“I don’t want to be likeable, but losing. I have ruffled a few feathers.”

Ruffling (great word) a few feathers is fine, Ray – if you’re a pigeon. And does hitting your captain in the face (twice!) come under the category of “feather ruffling”? Come off it; you’re a poor coach, intimidatory man-manager and the best entertainment South African cricket’s had since Jonty Rhodes. Let’s reminisce!

“His [Ray Jennings] aggressive methods, which caused the injury to his captain Graeme Smith during the warm-up on this Test’s fourth morning, are controversial to say the least”

“If Smith’s injury had been an unlucky accident Jennings could be forgiven, but this is the second time in two months that a player has been concussed courtesy of Jennings’ warm-up bat. In Kanpur six weeks ago the unlucky man was Dippenaar. It is one thing having a hard nut as a coach, quite another having simply a nut.”

Mickey Mouse’s first series will be against the New Zealanders in October (good series, that, but let’s hope New Zealand can find a quickie, or re-awaken Shane Bond…)

Dean Jones applies to be Indian cricket coach

Dean Jones, after much speculation as to who might be interested, has formally applied for the position of coach of India. Tough bloke, Jones – could be a very interesting time for Indian cricket if he’s appointed

Lillee quitting Cricket Australia (and “Pace Australia”)

Forgot to post this last night. Lillee is probably the foremost authority on pace bowling – and, importantly, in pace-bowling coaching – but he’s not being paid enough, apparently, and is stepping away from Cricket Australia. More hereand here

Great shame for Australia, and I wonder who will get him? Not England – no money, and we already have Lillee’s understudy Troy Cooley [see previous blog]. I think he’d be most tempted with India or Pakistan – but West Indies is where he should go! Start to find some new Ambroses, Marshalls, Garners & Holdings…put West Indies cricket back on the map with some terrifying fast bowlers (oh – and ban Basketball whilst you’re at it, Dennis…)

Ex-coaches

If the ex-coach of a team I supported spoke out of the team’s woes and discomforts, a few weeks before a pretty major Test series, I’d be pretty peeved. Luckily, for once, my team isn’t on the receiving end. This is a difficult time for South African cricket – for African cricket, in fact – and Graeme Smith can hardly have welcomed the comments Bob Woolmer made today:

[from BBC]

“Even sections of the local media who supported him [Smith] are now questioning him,” said Woolmer, who played Test cricket for England before taking up coaching. “

He’s had quite a turbulent career, Smith. He came in and captained SA almost immediately, ahead of their most popular (and talented) player Shaun Pollock. Another Natalian, Klusener – equally adored by his home fans – was dropped, Smith stating that he was a bad influence on the team. But in 2003, he then starting smashing England apart with 2 massive double centuries. The following quote tickled me

“”That bloody Smith! How am I supposed to hate him when he keeps scoring all those runs?” a nursing sister in a busy Durban medical practice spat with a scowl as she averted her eyes from the waiting-room television even while South Africa marched to their Test triumph at Lord’s. She wasn’t entirely unserious. “

Now he faces England again, who possess not just more firepower but more professionalism and a slick unit. Will he fight fire with fire like last time?