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Saker tempted by Warwickshire coaching role

George Dobell in Nagpur

December 15, 2012

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England bowling coach David Saker goes for a run before play, England v South Africa, 1st Test, The Oval, 4th Day, July, 22, 2012
England's bowling coach David Saker has admitted that Warwickshire's vacant director of cricket role has its attractions © PA Photos

On wearing days in India like this, with England for a long period looking as if they would spend a day in the field without taking a wicket for just the fourth time in their history, their bowling coach David Saker could be forgiven for contemplating different challenges.

Like the chance, for instance, to replace Ashley Giles as Warwickshire's director of cricket. Saker has not applied for the position, but he has confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that he would be interested in exploring the opportunity if he was approached. Warwickshire are understood to be keen to talk.

"In many ways it would be ideal for me," Saker said. "But I have an amazing job with England that I love and I would hate to leave it before the 2015 World Cup. Maybe it comes a couple of years early, but I would love to have a conversation with them."

The attraction for both parties is obvious. Saker, appointed as England bowling coach in April 2010, is highly regarded in the England set-up, has an excellent relationship with England's Warwickshire duo of Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott and is keen to broaden his coaching horizons beyond the limits of specialised bowling coaching.

He also lives near Birmingham and has a young family that he sees all too infrequently due to the demands of touring - the same sort of personal issues which caused England's coach, Andy Flower, to negotiate his withdrawal from day-to-day involvement in the limited-overs formats.

A straight-talking, good-natured Australian whose ability to mentor and communicate with players is in contrast to some modern, laptop-based coaches, he would appear to be a very good catch.

Bear fight: who will succeed Giles?

  • Andy Moles aged 51
  • First-class career: 1986-1997 (230 matches)
  • A highly experienced coach, Moles was also part of the highly successful Warwickshire team of the mid-90s and came close to being appointed director of cricket after the departure of John Inverarity at the end of 2005. Although he has enjoyed relatively successful spells as an international coach with Kenya, Scotland and New Zealand, all have ended under a cloud. While his experience and passion for the club should be a major advantage, some perceived baggage might - perhaps unfairly - count against him.
  • Dougie Brown 43
  • First-class career: 1989-2007 (209 matches)
  • As an allrounder, Brown played ODIs for England and Scotland and won multiple trophies in a long career with Warwickshire. He coached Namibia in the 2003 World Cup and moved into a coaching role at Edgbaston - as academy and assistant coach - following his retirement as a player in 2007. Hugely popular with players and supporters at the club, he was short-listed for the role of England bowling coach in 2010.
  • Graeme Welch 40
  • First-class career: 1994-2006 (171 matches)
  • Probably the favourite for the role. Welch, a former allrounder with Warwickshire and Derbyshire, has made an excellent impression as bowling coach with Warwickshire and is credited for the development of the club's coterie of fine fast bowlers. A lack of coaching experience with batsmen may count against him, but Welch is well-liked by Warwickshire's players and is believed to have been one of two options chosen by Giles, to succeed him.
  • David Saker 46
  • First-class career: 1994-2003 (72 matches)
  • The England bowling coach cites the Warwickshire role as his ideal job. Close to his home and offering the opportunity to broaden his coaching experience beyond the role of being a specialist with bowlers, the role would also enable Saker to limit his touring commitments. His lack of Warwickshire pedigree may be a major impediment, but Saker is close to the club's England duo Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott and has developed an excellent reputation in his role with England.

Warwickshire have attracted several other very good candidates. The 2012 county champions have an excellent stadium, a strong squad and, despite a difficult year financially, pay well.

Giles, who resigned to become England's limited-overs coach in the New Year, is known to have favoured an internal appointment - probably the club's current bowling coach, Graeme Welch or perhaps the club's academy coach Dougie Brown - but the chief executive, Colin Povey is keen to explore the market in more detail.

Povey was reluctant to be drawn on the subject but, when asked about Saker replied: "People have to pick up phones and have conversations."

Saker's departure would be a blow to England. Not only do the bowlers speak highly of his help in analysing opposition batsmen's weaknesses, but it was Saker who instigated the successful recall of Chris Tremlett ahead of the Ashes of 2010-11 and Saker who is credited with helping Steven Finn develop from a promising but raw youngster into a world-class fast bowler. England's record this year is far from unblemished but, with one or two exceptions, it has been the batsmen who have let the bowlers down.

His departure to follow that of Flower would be unlikely to destabilise a settled dressing room unduly, but it might serve as a warning to the ECB about the unsustainable burden they are placing on the shoulders of players and coaches in expecting them to fulfil a relentless international schedule.

England's touring programme might also limit the number of potential candidates applying to replace Saker. It just may be that Giles' relationship with Welch, the former Derbyshire and Warwickshire allrounder who has performed such sterling work developing Warwickshire's excellent crop of fast bowlers, could effectively engineer a job swap: Saker to Warwickshire and Welch to England.

There is little Saker could have told his bowlers that would have made much difference on the third day at Nagpur. England did not bowl badly. They simply came up against admirably determined opposition on a desperately slow wicket. James Anderson and Graeme Swann, in particular, could feel pretty satisfied with their performance, if not the results of it, though concerns remain about Tim Bresnan's form.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Front-Foot_lunge on (December 16, 2012, 19:59 GMT)

The number of Australians who have come over and pulled the strings of English cricket is staggering. There is an unknown and unpaid debt to their cricketing knowledge that English cricket and their fans refuse to acknowledge, starting way back in 2001 when Rod Marsh took over the National Academy, and runs right through to now. We aped almost all of their setup and structure and got their top coaches in to implement it for us. It could be said, that without Australia and South Africa, there wouldn't be much of a England side. Personally, I would like to thank them for that.

Posted by Juiceoftheapple on (December 15, 2012, 23:42 GMT)

I know nothing about Graeme Welch and just a bit about Saker, but Andy Nash, Vic Marks and the rest at Taunton need to wake up, we need a bowling coach to take over from Brian Rose. Bowlers win trophies, fact. Look at that lad from Kent that Warks took. We have an amazing crop of fast bowlers, most of our batsman get england coaching, Dibble and Overton look pure class, add in Overton and Gregory and we need the right coach, someone give thie Welch dude a call.....

Posted by   on (December 15, 2012, 22:28 GMT)

A truly great choice. As a dedicated Bears fan he would keep Warks at the top for many years where they belong. go Bears!

Posted by funkyandy on (December 15, 2012, 17:50 GMT)

As a Bears fan, Mr Saker could apply for Warwickshire bowling coach - Graeme Welch should get the top job on the back of his unbelievable achievement with making Warwickshire's attack the best in county cricket.

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