April 26, 2007

World Cup 2007

The World Cup merry-go-round

Nishi Narayanan

Osman Samiuddin looks at the coaching clearout which has followed the World Cup and examines the prospects for the old, the new and the unknown

Greg Chappell waves at the waiting media as he leaves the board meeting at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, April 6, 2007
 © AFP
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India

Outbox: Apart from making fl****bility and pr***cess cuss words, Greg Chappell's time with India yielded little that was definitive: the last line-ups under John Wright and Chappell two years later had eight of the same names. Had Sourav Ganguly not been suspended for slow over-rates back in April 2005, it would've been nine.

Inbox: The new man will have to gel with skipper Rahul Dravid, yet take the other players who had distanced themselves from captain and coach along as well. A number of senior stars will near a natural end under the new coach and handling that will require the touch of a diplomat. Dealing with strong-minded underperformers like Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh will not be easy either. The most difficult assignment it may not be (see across the border, or below) but none brings greater pressure.

Contenders: That Dav Whatmore is keen on the job is no secret. He is also the likeliest contender and subcontinent experience is a handy advantage. A John Wright return won't be ruled out until he says no: have feelers been sent out? Locals such as Mohinder Amarnath, Sandeep Patil and even Sunil Gavaskar will also be in the running.

Pakistan

Outbox: Bob Woolmer's death brought a tragic end to a relationship that was, in all likelihood, heading towards an end anyway. Despite some impressive progress in his second year, his tenure had become stale, his influence had weakened, the effect had worn and the politics worsened.

Inbox: The new coach has a new young captain to work with and much on his plate: senior players will need soothing, the issue of religion will have to be tread around delicately and WADA may still have something to say about two key players. Factor in the general madness of Pakistan cricket and it is the most difficult, and least desirable, job in world cricket at the moment.

Contenders: John Wright was contacted last year but nothing concrete emerged from it. Though he hasn't ruled out a coaching job, sources close to Wright told Cricinfo that no offer had been made. Tim Boon, of Leicestershire, has also been mentioned but if the PCB go local, then Aaqib Javed is first choice. Wasim Akram, about to help out local fast bowlers in Lahore, is the wildest wildcard.

Bangladesh

Outbox: Dav Whatmore's jump for the Indian job almost before the 'Send' option had been clicked on Greg Chappell's email left a sour aftertaste to what has been, without quibbles, a wonderful stint. Arguably, he has done more for Bangladesh than all their previous coaches put together and they dance less at big wins now: a sure sign of tangible progress.

Inbox: The new man walks into one of the more exciting jobs. Underpinned by an Australian blueprint for success, Bangladesh cricket is currently abuzz, an academy delivering talent proper to the national team in a country in which the game's popularity is growing still.

Contenders: Few official noises have been made as Whatmore will stay till the India series in May to give the board time to find a replacement. Somewhere, the name of Allan Donald has cropped up though. And even, believe it or not, Nasser Hussain.

Sri Lanka:

Outbox: Along with Whatmore, a reminder to the more myopic that foreign coach alone doesn't a disaster make in the subcontinent. Moody's start wasn't sparkling but the arrival of Mahela Jayawardene as captain sparked some magic, the duo combining to make Sri Lanka the subcontinent's smartest side. The proof has been in this World Cup pudding.

Inbox: Walking into the most exciting job in world cricket. There is a lovely balance between the old legs and new ones, the captain himself is beautifully poised in between and the team appears on the verge of big things. The board, though, is as crazy as they come in the subcontinent.

Contenders: Moody's departure is not inked in just yet, but a move to Western Australia, according to some, is all but settled. And he was a frontrunner for India two years ago and Australia recently.

West Indies

Outbox: Neighbhours aside, coaches are Australia's greatest export and Bennett King was part of the trade when he joined up with the West Indies in 2005. But so terminal, and prolonged, has been their decline that his eventual failure wasn't a surprise. There was a revival in 2006 but it was almost as brief as Chaminda Vaas-Stephen Fleming encounters.

Inbox: Given that King wasn't a popular choice among locals, a foreign appointment would have that to deal with that resentment first. There is also the small matter of answering the toughest question in cricket: How on earth do you reverse Caribbean cricketing fortunes? A legend light and a new captain to work with may or may not help.

Contenders: Likely to be a local this time round and Roger Harper, currently with Kenya, might be lured away by the lustre of a big job at home.

New men at the helm

Australia

Outbox: Despite possessing the most formidable winning record known to coachkind, John Buchanan's legacy in Australia is puzzlingly ambiguous. Was he an innovative, hands-off, Sun Tzu spouting, new age svengali? Or was he just irrelevant, a necessary, modern-day evil handed fortunate to be around greatness? Answers to be slipped secretly under hotel doors please.

Inbox: Tim Nielsen is a system pick through and through, safe and credible. More skills-based and hands-on than his predecessor, but Buchanan remains a mentor. Has played more first-class cricket too, which will probably earn him some more respect.

Prospects: After the West Indies, this must be the toughest question: How does one of the greatest teams of all time get better? He will have to deal quickly with the retirements of a number of geniuses, though as the World Cup has revealed, they appear to have a replacement ready in every position.

Peter Moores poses, ECB National Cricket Academy, Loughborough, April 25, 2007
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England

Outbox: The end wasn't pretty, but Duncan Fletcher's seven-year reign had more good in it than bad. Bottom of the pile in 1999, he took them, with two different captains, to very near the Test summit in 2005. Injuries haven't helped since but the rot has worsened and the time was right for change. Not that it seemed possible, but the ODI side has actually regressed since 1999.

Inbox: Peter Moores's was a swift appointment, though David Morgan calling it an 'emergency' choice seems plain rude. Another safe, system pick, though in nearly all of his previous appointments and incarnations, he has produced results.

Prospects: Following on from arguably the best coach England has ever had is every bit as difficult as it sounds. He has some work on his hands, with an ODI overhaul and a major Test rekindling for starters. And helping Steve Harmison and Marcus Trescothick get their groove back might not be a bad idea either.

Netherlands

Outbox: Peter Cantrall's departure highlighted the pressure on leading Associates to become more professional and full time. He decided that his commitments outside the game did not allow him to devote the necessary time to the national side.

Inbox: Paul-Jan Bakker's appointment carries on that trend, as Netherlands cannot afford to pay a higher-profile coach. The team is in transition and the next two years will show which way they are going.

Prospects: Like all Associates, Netherlands are battling with being amateurs in a professional world. A small player base and finite commercial opportunities means that Bakker will do well to tread water.

Steady as she goes

Mickey Arthur takes questions from the media at the Marriot Resort in Basseterre, St Kitts, March 19, 2007
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New Zealand

John Bracewell has shown little sign of moving on but the retirement of Stephen Fleming as one-day captain might be the first sign that the old order is starting to crumble. Martin Crowe was the first to suggest as much after the mauling by Sri Lanka in the semi-final.

South Africa

Mickey Arthur is probably the only coach of a Full Member country whose position is as secure coming out of the World Cup as it was going in, despite the team blowing hot and cold for most of it. And with the side now pretty much out of action until the later stages of the year, he may be the only coach who started 2007 to still be there at the end.

Zimbabwe

Kevin Curran has managed one win in 19 ODIs but, by his own admission, is not under pressure from a board who are not expecting him to win games. His security may owe a lot to the fact he is happy to two the board line, and also that few would be prepared to take charge of such a young side, and one where players are still quitting at a worrying rate.

Kenya

Those close to Kenyan cricket have nothing but praise for the work Harper has done in rebuilding shattered confidence and bringing through several young players. Out of contract, the board understandably want him to carry on, but he is sure to be on a number of other countries' want lists.

Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by SYED SHAHID HOSSAIN on (April 30, 2007, 9:33 GMT)

I would like to have a foreign coach for Pakistan either it may be from Australia, England, South Africa,or West Indies.Where Bob has left he has to continue from there. Specially we have noticed that batting & fielding is the weakest point of their batting.Gordon Greenidge, John Wright, Stev Waugh or someone in the same range can definately pulls the present young team under the leadership of Shoeb Malik can yield good result.Since fielding coach perhaps coming from USA(BaseBall Coach) they badly need a batting coach.

Posted by barry williams on (April 26, 2007, 10:30 GMT)

Coaches in all sports have a use by date. The trick is finding the right time to exit. A new coach can bring an initial improvement but a continued success is often difficult to achieve especially if the coach is a one trick pony. Buchanan with his left of centre approach has been refreshing but obviously not everyones cup of tea ie Shane Warne although Warne will be the better for playing under Buchanan. Coaching a great side is easier than coaching a poor side. I feel that Geoff Marsh was a limited coach,(and a player who was able to make the most of his limited talents), but his coaching record is impressive because he coached an already successful side inherited from Bob Simpson who was a great coach.

Posted by Salman on (April 26, 2007, 8:39 GMT)

Nowadays coach is very important personel in the teams why is that i dont know? its not soccer,basketball or baseball...cricket is very differ from other sports..in soccer teams have the luxury of subsitutes and they can change their strategies according to the situation but in cricket coach is just a mere spectator.He is active after the damage has been done for example if a player get out than he try to figure out what went wrong with player technique(lots of "if" there,if you do this that whats happens).Its the players who perform in the field they have to adopt the conditions on the ground coach is just gives advised and wordly comments to players.This is the worst world cup in the cricketing history in many aspects.

Posted by Theena on (April 26, 2007, 8:06 GMT)

I am praying - as much as that is possible for one unfamiliar with religion as I am - that Tom Moody stays back in SL.

It is obvious that he and Mahela have got a superb working relationship - bringing someone new at this point, then, might not be the most ideal situation.

Posted by Ian on (April 26, 2007, 7:07 GMT)

If Moody wants to go, then for SL best to go for a fresh start with some one like Daral Leeman Michale Beven. So the team and coach got 4 years to build and ready for the next world cup on the subcontinent. Even though Leeman just ahead of Beven it is highly unlikely that he will get the gig as he had some issues with black and white few years back. So, Beven is my pic!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nishi Narayanan
Staff writer Nishi studied journalism because she didn't want to study at all. As she spent most of the time at j-school stationed in front of the TV watching cricket her placement officer had no choice but to send out a desperate plea to the editor of ESPNcricinfo to hire her. Though some of the senior staff was suspicious at that a diploma in journalism was the worst thing that could happen to ESPNcricinfo and she did nothing to allay them, she continues to log in everyday and do her two bits for cricket.

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