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Howard's lack of cricket experience not an issue - Clarke

Brydon Coverdale

October 13, 2011

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Australia's fielding coach Steve Rixon at a practice session, Cape Town, October 10, 2011
Steve Rixon, along with Mickey Arthur, is among the top candidates to take over as Australia's coach © Getty Images
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Australia's captain, Michael Clarke, does not believe Pat Howard's lack of cricket experience will be a problem after he was appointed to one of Cricket Australia's most senior positions. Howard, a former rugby international, was on Thursday unveiled as the general manager of team performance, a newly-created role in which Clarke and the head coach will report to him.

A self-confessed "terrible legspinner" whose main cricket experience came at school, Howard will be responsible for installing Australia's new coach and full-time selector, and faces the challenge of helping the team rise back up the Test rankings. Clarke said Howard's off-field record, which included a high-performance position with the Australian Rugby Union, was impressive, and his new job was not a role that required someone with cricket expertise.

"His job is not to be the head coach or the captain, he's been very successful in this role and he's done it before [in rugby]," Clarke told reporters in Sydney, before flying out for Australia's tour of South Africa. "He's played a lot of sport and he knows his cricket well enough, so I'm not concerned at all that he hasn't played cricket at the highest level. Now it is about communication between the CEO, James Sutherland, the head coach, the chairman of selectors and the captain to work out what we need to do to continue going forward."

The most pressing issue now is the appointment of a coach, after Tim Nielsen stepped down following the tour of Sri Lanka. The expanded head coach position features much more responsibility, in line with recommendations from the Argus review, with the new mentor set to direct the coaching strategies throughout elite cricket in Australia as well as within the national side.

The former South Africa coach, Mickey Arthur, and Australia's fielding coach, Steve Rixon, are likely to be among the leading candidates, although it could take up to two months for an appointment to be made. On Thursday, Howard indicated the importance of ensuring Clarke and the new mentor could work well together, and Clarke confirmed he would have some input into the appointment.

"I'll probably have an impact in regards to the coach, and it is down to James [Sutherland] and the general manager to make these decisions, but I'm confident there will be communication as we try and get the best people for the job," he said. "We all want to see Australian cricket get back to being number one in all forms of the game and whoever gets these selection roles will have that mindset."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (October 14, 2011, 17:16 GMT)

Have been observing MJ Clarke quite a bit lately. His handling of the media has been exemplary (unlike Ponting of late ... again) Reading between the lines, Captain Clarke has an outstanding cricket brain as well as having a real handle on the future administration (and politics) of cricket in Australia. I just hope he continues to make runs. If he does, then I have no doubt our cricketing future and rankings will improve dramatically under his captaincy.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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