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October 25, 2013
News : Tymal Mills to help with Ashes preparations
News : Anderson aims for 400 Test wickets
Features : The Ashes tour of the giant fast bowler
Features : Tremlett desperate to reprise the past
Series/Tournaments: England tour of Australia
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 ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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