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January 27, 2008
Duncan Fletcher, the former England coach, is likely to head to South Africa for his next coaching assignment with the Highveld Lions. Newspaper reports suggest Fletcher may replace current coach Gordon Parsons for the two limited-overs tournaments still to be played this season.
The Johannesburg-based Sunday Times reported that the Lions were keen to have Fletcher, but they would first have to sort out the roles for Parsons and Jimmy Cook, the batting coach. The paper indicated the two coaches had problems working together, but Parsons denied there was any bad blood between him and Cook. "Jimmy and I get on very well," Parsons told the daily. "I'm not saying we're perfect. We spent three days in a dressing room together last weekend without any problems.
"Maybe expectations were a little unrealistic in terms of us having come second [in the SuperSport Series] last season. Losing Tyron Henderson and Charl Langeveldt and only having Vaughn [van Jaarsveld] coming back last weekend means that a burden has fallen on inexperienced players like Craig Alexander and Brian Mathebula."
The Lions also lost their captain Neil McKenzie mid-season when he was called up to South Africa's squad for the second Test against West Indies. He tore his right calf muscle during the match and has been put of action since. Justin Ontong, who replaced McKenzie as captain, was picked in the one-day squad, but a knee injury has forced him out of the second and third ODIs. Alviro Peterson is leading the Lions in their absence.
Cook said the Lions coaches, players and selectors were scheduled to meet on Monday. "I know people aren't happy, so I'm expecting some clear-the-air type talks," Cook said. "It's all about knuckling down and getting our season back on track."
The Lions are at the bottom of the Super Sports Series points table and haven't won a single game of the tournament so far. If Fletcher joins them this season, he will take charge of the side for the MTN Domestic Championship and the Standard Bank Pro20 Series.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the day from the CLT20 match between Dolphins and Lahore Lions in Bangalore
The Plays of the day from the CLT20 match between Kings XI Punjab and Northern Knights, in Mohali