England news October 25, 2013

England secure Saker until 2015

David Saker will remain England's bowling coach until at least the end of the 2015 season after agreeing to a contract extension, as the ECB aims to ensure they can ward off any potential interest from other nations.

Saker replaced Ottis Gibson in the role when Gibson became West Indies coach in early 2010, and his first assignment was England's victorious World Twenty20 campaign in the Caribbean. Since then he has helped form a strong hand of fast bowlers at Andy Flower's disposal, led by James Anderson, and is often spoken about in glowing terms by the England quicks.

His current deal was due to run until early 2014 and now he has been inked in for a period that includes the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand plus home Test series against Sri Lanka, India, New Zealand and the 2015 Ashes.

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to continue working with England," Saker said. "I have been privileged enough to have been involved in some memorable moments for English cricket over the last three and a half years and worked with some outstanding cricketers.

"Given the calibre of players in and around the side at the moment, and the hunger and commitment from all involved, I am very much looking forward to another very exciting period over the next couple of years, starting with the immediate challenge of retaining the Ashes."

Hugh Morris, the outgoing managing director of England cricket, was well aware of Saker's global value, although any notion of a switch to Australia had been dampened by Craig McDermott's return as Test bowling coach.

"His contribution has been such that we are aware that other countries would dearly have loved David to be a part of their management group and that is why this announcement is so important," Morris said.

"David has made - and continues to make - an enormous contribution to the success of the England team. Since joining us in May 2010 he has worked with - and developed - an outstanding bowling unit which has been key to winning two successive Ashes series, winning a global event and climbing to No. 1 in the world.

"It is a great a boost on the first day of this Ashes campaign that we can confirm that David has committed himself to the England cause until the end of summer of 2015."

Under Saker, England's pace attack has been built around Anderson and Stuart Broad, while Tim Bresnan, who is trying to recover from a stress fracture of the back in order to play a part in the Ashes, is someone Saker rates enormously. He will also have been instrumental in the decision to stock the Ashes squad with tall fast bowlers.

However, although regularly discussed as one of the best attacks in the world, and while there is a collection of fast bowlers vying to play the supporting role, there have been occasions in the last 18 months to question quite how potent England's other options are.

Steven Finn, who has played all his Tests under Saker, remains a work in progress and has provided Saker with one of his tougher challenges. Finn was encouraged to try a shortened run in New Zealand earlier this year, but returned to his traditional run-up during the home season, and then lost his place following the first Ashes Test.

The other quicks in Australia are the uncapped Boyd Rankin and the fit-again Chris Tremlett, the latter who played a key role in 2010-11, but now faces questions as to whether he retains the same potency following his serious back problems. Ben Stokes, whose bowling has developed significantly, is there as an all-round option.

In the early weeks of the Ashes tour, Saker will have the chance to work with one of England's potential next generation after Tymal Mills, the Essex left-armer, was asked to fly to Australia to aid the preparations. England, who are likely to face Mitchell Johnson during the series, do not have a left-arm pacemen in their ranks currently and it remains one of the boxes Saker is desperate to tick.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • W on October 26, 2013, 7:04 GMT

    It's good news for England I suppose. I dare say the Australians look to have a far better bowling stock than England do at the moment. This will be no cakewalk, I think England are going to lose the Ashes.

  • Michael on October 26, 2013, 0:39 GMT

    Well at least we have kept this guy-unlike Cooley. Well, done ECB. Saker seems to get the best out of most bowlers. Re Finn: he needs to do what comes naturally,what feels the most right for him and nothing more,except up to 1ft to the left, and do it as fast ads possible. He is a quick bowler, not a fast medium. Mills is an interesting bowler and hopefully he'll develope into something useful. Left arm quick is always interesting.

  • John on October 25, 2013, 19:56 GMT

    Finn is going through a Jimmy Anderson period in that he's getting advice from too many people telling him what he should do. I hope he gets everything sorted out soon as Eng do need him at his best.

  • John on October 25, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    Very good news for England. Saker seems to be on the same wavelength as the players and to help them without taking away their natural strengths. Without doubt, Finn is his biggest project; when Finn gets his rhythm right, he's fast and fearsome, when he doesn't he sprays it to all parts. Saker's challenge is to get his consistency up to test standards.

    England has a couple of left-arm pacemen coming through, both for Essex; Mills and Reece Topley. Both are young (21 and 19 respectively) but both have shown promise. Keith Barker is also a prospect as an all-rounder. Saker might get his box ticked, but probably not by the end of 2015.

  • Cyril on October 25, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    Saker is obviously a very good coach and works well with the England players. However they is a massive problem in bowling coaching outside the England set-up. Too many young bowlers are drifting into mediocrity after bright starts. I see Dernbach and Meaker at Surrey as two great examples. Stuart Barnes is supposed to be a superb bowling coach, but these two have gone backwards under his guidance. At Middlesex Toby Roland-Jones was bowled into the ground. Shahzad, Plunkett and Mahmood are others whose form tailed off dramatically. Perhaps Saker can be used to coach the County coaches. England selectors already see Championship form as worthless as demonstrated by the selections of Tremelett and Panesar. And under the current system to gap between County bowlers and Test bowlers will only widen more.

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