ECB begin search for bowling coach
The ECB will begin their search for a replacement bowling coach after Ottis Gibson was released from his contract to take up the head coach's role with West Indies. England leave for Dubai in mid-February for two Twenty20s against Pakistan before heading onto Bangladesh for a one-day and Test tour, and it seems unlikely a full-time appointment will be made in time for that trip.
Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, and head coach Andy Flower will lead the search for Gibson's replacement. "There has been much speculation in the last few days about the role of fast bowling coach," Morris said, "but now Ottis has confirmed his departure, Andy Flower and I will begin the process of identifying the right individual who can join the England set up and build on the foundation laid by Ottis."
Gibson had become a well-respected member of England's growing backroom staff and had been credited with the improving performances of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graham Onions. The England quick bowlers often spoke highly of Gibson who was the first man to successfully fill the hole left by Troy Cooley's departure following the 2005 Ashes series.
"I think Ottis has done a pretty good job," the former England seamer, Angus Fraser, told Cricinfo. "He's been quiet and undemonstrative, and he's just gone about his business. He never sought the limelight and he had the respect of his players, which you do when you've had a good career yourself, and he dealt with them in a very mature way."
The ECB will want a high-calibre appointment to fill the vacancy and their search could well lead them back to South Africa, a country that has proved a popular source of players and coaches in recent times. Allan Donald is likely to be sounded out over his availability and is certainly one of the stand-out candidates currently not in a role, having missed out on the India bowling role that recently went to his fellow South African, Eric Simons.
Donald held an interim role with England in 2007 but turned down the full-time position because of the touring commitments involved, and instead returned to Warwickshire. However, he left county cricket at the end of the 2009 season because of family reasons and returned home, and it remains to be seen whether he would be willing to uproot his young family again.
Another option the ECB may consider is Donald's former team-mate Shaun Pollock, who has taken his first steps into coaching with the Mumbai Indians at the IPL. It is also possible that South Africa's current bowling coach, Vincent Barnes, could well be looking for a new job after the tour of India if the upheaval in the South African coaching structure continues.
There aren't many candidates from closer to home making huge cases to be considered. Kevin Shine held the position after Cooley departed and is now in charge of the fast bowling programme at the National Academy in Loughborough, but remains tainted by his back-room role during the 2006-07 Ashes whitewash in Australia.
From those not currently in the coaching set-up, Darren Gough would make an interesting choice, particularly when it comes to the art of one-day cricket, although his lifestyle has moved away from cricket since retirement. Meanwhile Phil DeFreitas, the former England seamer, was in the running when Shine got the job in 2006.
"The most important factor in who they pick now is that they find someone who fits in with what Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower want to achieve," added Fraser.