Robert Croft to work with England one-day squad
Robert Croft has been appointed as a spin bowling consultant to the England ODI side. He played 21 Test and 50 ODIs during his England career and will spend 12 days with the limited-overs team in South Africa.
A vastly experienced offspinner, Croft represented Glamorgan for 23 years and, even into his 40s, proved highly effective as a limited-overs performer with changes of pace - even changes of action - helping him make a successful transition to the T20 age.
While the ECB do already have a full-time spin bowling coach - Peter Such - Croft retired from playing recently enough to have played against most of the England squad and has experience of playing international limited-overs cricket. Such, who never played ODIs and retired before the advent of T20, also already has a wide area of responsibility and was in the UAE with the performance squad before Christmas and is expected to travel with the England U19 squad as they prepare for the U19 World Cup. While Such might be described as a coach in the traditional sense, helping bowlers build a technique, Croft's role may relate more to specific match situations and tactics.
Since retiring as a player at the end of 2012, Croft has moved into coaching. He is currently with Glamorgan and has previously been invited to work with the England performance squad. He hopes to complete his Level 4 coaching qualification in 2016.
"Robert has had success in both domestic and international cricket during his career and he'll have plenty to offer the dressing room," Andrew Strauss, the director of England cricket, said. "It's an opportunity for players and coaches to exchange different ideas which is so important particularly at this stage in the side's development.
"He has worked with our performance programme in the past and has proved a popular and valuable addition and I've no doubt this group of players will also gain a lot from his involvement. I'm sure he'll return with ideas that Glamorgan will benefit from as they prepare for the coming season."
The appointment of Croft continues England's policy of utilising the skills and experience of recently retired former players. Paul Collingwood, the only man to lead England to a global limited-overs trophy at the 2010 World T20, is also expected to join up the squad for the World T20 in India while Mahela Jayawardene spent time with the Test players at the start of their tour of the UAE. The other coaches for the ODI segment of the South Africa tour will be Trevor Bayliss, Paul Farbrace, Ottis Gibson and Graham Thorpe.
The development will surely do Croft's own coaching credentials no harm. With Toby Radford having recently left the role of head coach at Glamorgan, Croft is probably the favourite to replace him. A coaching appointment with the England side coming 10 days before the closing date for applications would seem perfectly timed.
"It's extra experience for me and if the opportunity presents itself to help the lads I will," Croft said. "I'm there to observe and primarily be a sounding board for the spin bowlers, but will give any additional help as required.
"It is another opportunity to increase my coaching experience. The November before last I was invited out to work with Andy Flower with the development squad in Sri Lanka and this time it's the full squad in South Africa. I'm looking forward to meeting up with two excellent coaches with different styles in Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace and to absorbing their ideas.
"It is always good to have an open mind in the profession you are involved with, you can learn every day, so I hope to pick up things that will help me be a better coach."
The England squad flew from Cape Town to Johannesburg on Sunday and, after a brief break, will resume training on Monday morning.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo