England's coaching quandry December 17, 2005

England look to Lillee

Cricinfo staff

Might Dennis Lillee defect to England? © The Cricketer International
Reeling from the loss of Troy Cooley, England are actively scouring the world for a replacement bowling coach, with their former tormenter Dennis Lillee high on the shopping list. Pakistani Waqar Younis and Australian Bruce Reid are also on England's list of potential candidates.

"We will be casting our net wide in the recruitment process," John Carr, director of cricket at the ECB, told The Sydney Morning Herald. Our commitment will be to find the best possible replacement for Troy. We're quite open about our sincere disappointment that we've lost him. He's an exceptional bowling coach."

Lillee has coached and helped develop many of Australia's fast bowlers over the past 15 years - notably Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee - but left his position at the Australian Academy in November 2004 following a fallout with Cricket Australia.

"I'll listen to any offer," Lillee said. "I wouldn't rule anything out, but it's a hard one for me to comment on because this is the first time I've given it any thought. There's nothing more I can say, really."

Although not formally employed by Cricket Australia, he has continued to work with many of Australia's fast bowlers who have sought him out for advice and training. England's resurgence in the past 18 months is due in no small part to two Australians and a Zimbabwean: Rod Marsh, Cooley and Duncan Fletcher. Marsh was instrumental in co-ordinating and directing the ECB's academy, and enlisted Cooley's support in 2003 as a hands-on bowling coach. The results, in particular the development of a four-pronged fast-bowling attack, have been dramatic.

Fletcher: 'Now, just as we have achieved something big, he is on his way - and it's a massive disappointment' © Getty Images
Fletcher said it was "a huge blow" to lose Cooley to Australia, especially on the back of a summer of unprecedented success: "Troy phoned me to say he was sorry about going and all I could do was to wish him well," Fletcher told reporters in Pakistan. "It's taken some time to put together a good management team with the right personalities and Troy's ideas were very similar to mine.

"Now, just as we have achieved something big, he is on his way - and it's a massive disappointment. He's a proud Australian and when we go across there to defend the Ashes he's going to be in the opposite camp. I knew he had been approached a couple of weeks ago, and he discussed it with me, but I left it to the ECB to negotiate with him.

"He has done a tremendous job for us and I was hoping to go through at least until the 2007 World Cup with him, but now we need to find the right person to take over quickly."