Osman Samiuddin
Sportswriter at the National

The World Cup merry-go-round

The coaching clearout that has followed the World Cup

Osman Samiuddin

April 26, 2007

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Osman Samiuddin looks at the coaching clearout which has followed the World Cup and examines the prospects for the old, the new and the unknown



Greg Chappell: the first coach to stand down after India's exit © Getty Images
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India

Outbox: Apart from making fl****bility and pr***cess cuss words, Greg Chappell's time with India yielded little that was definitive: the last line-ups under John Wright and Chappell two years later had eight of the same names. Had Sourav Ganguly not been suspended for slow over-rates back in April 2005, it would've been nine.

Inbox: The new man will have to gel with skipper Rahul Dravid, yet take the other players who had distanced themselves from captain and coach along as well. A number of senior stars will near a natural end under the new coach and handling that will require the touch of a diplomat. Dealing with strong-minded underperformers like Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh will not be easy either. The most difficult assignment it may not be (see across the border, or below) but none brings greater pressure.

Contenders: That Dav Whatmore is keen on the job is no secret. He is also the likeliest contender and subcontinent experience is a handy advantage. A John Wright return won't be ruled out until he says no: have feelers been sent out? Locals such as Mohinder Amarnath, Sandeep Patil and even Sunil Gavaskar will also be in the running.

Pakistan

Outbox: Bob Woolmer's death brought a tragic end to a relationship that was, in all likelihood, heading towards an end anyway. Despite some impressive progress in his second year, his tenure had become stale, his influence had weakened, the effect had worn and the politics worsened.

Inbox: The new coach has a new young captain to work with and much on his plate: senior players will need soothing, the issue of religion will have to be tread around delicately and WADA may still have something to say about two key players. Factor in the general madness of Pakistan cricket and it is the most difficult, and least desirable, job in world cricket at the moment.

Contenders: John Wright was contacted last year but nothing concrete emerged from it. Though he hasn't ruled out a coaching job, sources close to Wright told Cricinfo that no offer had been made. Tim Boon, of Leicestershire, has also been mentioned but if the PCB go local, then Aaqib Javed is first choice. Wasim Akram, about to help out local fast bowlers in Lahore, is the wildest wildcard.

Bangladesh

Outbox: Dav Whatmore's jump for the Indian job almost before the 'Send' option had been clicked on Greg Chappell's email left a sour aftertaste to what has been, without quibbles, a wonderful stint. Arguably, he has done more for Bangladesh than all their previous coaches put together and they dance less at big wins now: a sure sign of tangible progress.

Inbox: The new man walks into one of the more exciting jobs. Underpinned by an Australian blueprint for success, Bangladesh cricket is currently abuzz, an academy delivering talent proper to the national team in a country in which the game's popularity is growing still.

Contenders: Few official noises have been made as Whatmore will stay till the India series in May to give the board time to find a replacement. Somewhere, the name of Allan Donald has cropped up though. And even, believe it or not, Nasser Hussain.

Sri Lanka:

Outbox: Along with Whatmore, a reminder to the more myopic that foreign coach alone doesn't a disaster make in the subcontinent. Moody's start wasn't sparkling but the arrival of Mahela Jayawardene as captain sparked some magic, the duo combining to make Sri Lanka the subcontinent's smartest side. The proof has been in this World Cup pudding.

Inbox: Walking into the most exciting job in world cricket. There is a lovely balance between the old legs and new ones, the captain himself is beautifully poised in between and the team appears on the verge of big things. The board, though, is as crazy as they come in the subcontinent.

Contenders: Moody's departure is not inked in just yet, but a move to Western Australia, according to some, is all but settled. And he was a frontrunner for India two years ago and Australia recently.

West Indies

Outbox: Neighbhours aside, coaches are Australia's greatest export and Bennett King was part of the trade when he joined up with the West Indies in 2005. But so terminal, and prolonged, has been their decline that his eventual failure wasn't a surprise. There was a revival in 2006 but it was almost as brief as Chaminda Vaas-Stephen Fleming encounters.

Inbox: Given that King wasn't a popular choice among locals, a foreign appointment would have that to deal with that resentment first. There is also the small matter of answering the toughest question in cricket: How on earth do you reverse Caribbean cricketing fortunes? A legend light and a new captain to work with may or may not help.

Contenders: Likely to be a local this time round and Roger Harper, currently with Kenya, might be lured away by the lustre of a big job at home.

New men at the helm

Australia

Outbox: Despite possessing the most formidable winning record known to coachkind, John Buchanan's legacy in Australia is puzzlingly ambiguous. Was he an innovative, hands-off, Sun Tzu spouting, new age svengali? Or was he just a necessary, modern-day evil handed fortunate to be around greatness? Answers to be slipped secretly under hotel doors please.

Inbox: Tim Nielsen is a system pick through and through, safe and credible. More skills-based and hands-on than his predecessor, but Buchanan remains a mentor. Has played more first-class cricket too, which will probably earn him some more respect.

Prospects: After the West Indies, this must be the toughest question: How does one of the greatest teams of all time get better? He will have to deal quickly with the retirements of a number of geniuses, though as the World Cup has revealed, they appear to have a replacement ready in every position.



Peter Moores: another safe, system pick, © Getty Images
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England

Outbox: The end wasn't pretty, but Duncan Fletcher's seven-year reign had more good in it than bad. Bottom of the pile in 1999, he took them, with two different captains, to very near the Test summit in 2005. Injuries haven't helped since but the rot has worsened and the time was right for change. Not that it seemed possible, but the ODI side has actually regressed since 1999.

Inbox: Peter Moores's was a swift appointment, though David Morgan calling it an 'emergency' choice seems plain rude. Another safe, system pick, though in nearly all of his previous appointments and incarnations, he has produced results.

Prospects: Following on from arguably the best coach England has ever had is every bit as difficult as it sounds. He has some work on his hands, with an ODI overhaul and a major Test rekindling for starters. And helping Steve Harmison and Marcus Trescothick get their groove back might not be a bad idea either.

Netherlands

Outbox: Peter Cantrall's departure highlighted the pressure on leading Associates to become more professional and full time. He decided that his commitments outside the game did not allow him to devote the necessary time to the national side.

Inbox: Paul-Jan Bakker's appointment carries on that trend, as Netherlands cannot afford to pay a higher-profile coach. The team is in transition and the next two years will show which way they are going.

Prospects: Like all Associates, Netherlands are battling with being amateurs in a professional world. A small player base and finite commercial opportunities means that Bakker will do well to tread water.

Steady as she goes



Mickey Arthur: could end 2007 as the senior coach in world cricket © Getty Images
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New Zealand

John Bracewell has shown little sign of moving on but the retirement of Stephen Fleming as one-day captain might be the first sign that the old order is starting to crumble. Martin Crowe was the first to suggest as much after the mauling by Sri Lanka in the semi-final.

South Africa

Mickey Arthur is probably the only coach of a Full Member country whose position is as secure coming out of the World Cup as it was going in, despite the team blowing hot and cold for most of it. And with the side now pretty much out of action until the later stages of the year, he may be the only coach who started 2007 to still be there at the end.

Zimbabwe

Kevin Curran has managed one win in 19 ODIs but, by his own admission, is not under pressure from a board who are not expecting him to win games. His security may owe a lot to the fact he is happy to two the board line, and also that few would be prepared to take charge of such a young side, and one where players are still quitting at a worrying rate.

Kenya

Those close to Kenyan cricket have nothing but praise for the work Harper has done in rebuilding shattered confidence and bringing through several young players. Out of contract, the board understandably want him to carry on, but he is sure to be on a number of other countries' want lists.

What are your views on the coaching clearout? Do you have other suggestions on likely coaches? Tell us here

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.

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