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George Dobell in Nagpur
December 15, 2012
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?
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 ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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