World Cup to be Lloyd's farewell (24 March 1999)

24 March 1999

World Cup to be Lloyd's farewell

By Christopher Martin-Jenkins

DAVID LLOYD will stand down as England coach after the World Cup final on June 20. His departure is no surprise - he had indicated that it was a possibility during the tour of Australia and officials of the England and Wales Cricket Board had done nothing to discourage him - but the timing of the announcement is.

He had a meeting yesterday morning with the ECB chairman, Lord MacLaurin, and the international teams director, Simon Pack, and was unable to get the assurance for which he was hoping that his contract would be extended beyond the end of the coming season.

An ECB official said last night: "David fully understands the ECB's position, that it would be difficult to give such an assurance at this time. Both agreed that the matter needed to be concluded promptly to end speculation so that the England team can concentrate fully on their World Cup campaign."

Graham Gooch and John Emburey head a lengthy list of possible successors. Gooch managed the England tour of Australia capably but is still more at home in a tracksuit or cricket whites. Emburey recovered some of the ground he lost as an unsuccessful coach of Northamptonshire when he coached the all-conquering England A team who returned recently from a relatively low-key tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Emburey's manager on that trip, Phil Neale, who has been director of cricket for Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, will be another candidate, along with the man he succeeded at Edgbaston, the innovative but world-weary Bob Woolmer. Jack Birkenshaw has proved himself a first-class coach of the old school in guiding Leicestershire to two championships in three seasons but either his county captain, James Whitaker, a natural leader, or the quirky but original director of Somerset cricket, Dermot Reeve, would represent more up-to-date thinking.

MacLaurin's personal choice would probably be Woolmer, but the old Test and County Cricket Board missed their chance to appoint him when they went for Ray Illingworth as Keith Fletcher's successor in 1993. Woolmer, who made three hundreds in 19 Tests for England, will retire as coach of South Africa, possibly wreathed in laurels, after the World Cup, but he would need a big salary and much persuading. Now settled in South Africa, he does not want the travelling and stress involved in coaching an international team again and he is more likely to take on another county job, which would enable him to return home in the winter. It should count against him, too, that he has stated publicly: "My heart is in South Africa."

There has never been any question where Lloyd's heart lies: in Accrington, England. The only serious criticism levelled against him since he took over at the start of the 1996 season has been an excess of passion for the England cause, notably during his first tour as coach, to Zimbabwe in 1996. In three years he has done for England what Woolmer might have done earlier, refining and extending The Management and coaching support for the team, making imaginative use of technology and making practice routines both sharper and more enjoyable. Since he was appointed, England have won three home Test series - against India, New Zealand and South Africa - but the poor performances abroad have continued.

It is customary for at least one of the major figures in England cricket to depart soon after a defeat by Australia, and there tends also to be an unwritten understanding that whichever is the oldest appointment among the reigning trio of captain, coach and chairman of selectors will head the queue to the guillotine. Some leave on their own terms but since the Ashes were lost in 1989, David Gower, Micky Stewart, Gooch, Ted Dexter, Fletcher, Illingworth and Mike Atherton have all lost or left posts which they first assumed amid an aura of hope and confidence.

Lloyd, 52, humorist and enthusiast as well as one-eyed observer of the world's injustices to England, has the chance to end his short but intense period as coach with a World Cup triumph, although everything would have to go perfectly for it to happen and an early departure from the tournament starting on May 14 is no less possible. A talented man, he will not be short of alternative sources of bread and butter, either from a media which frequently irritated him, or as a coach, possibly to an Australian state team.

Source :: Electronic Telegraph (