England in Australia 2013-14 January 23, 2014

Saker admits jobs are on the line

19

David Saker, the England bowling coach, has admitted his job could be in jeopardy as a result of England's wretched performance in Australia.

Saker, who signed a new three-year contract in October, accepted he had to take some responsibility for the disappointing form of fast bowler Steven Finn and for the failure of the bowlers to close out the ODI in Brisbane where James Faulkner thrashed Australia to a miraculous victory.

"I'll be the first to say that anyone on this tour should be worried about their job," Saker said. "We haven't performed well enough unfortunately and we're in the business of winning games of cricket. This has been a poor performance from everyone involved.

"I've had pretty much a fairy tale run until this tour and it has been a reality check for me. It is something that everyone in our group has to think about. I'm sure they will review everyone's position and if they see fit to change me, well that is their position, but I'm very much committed to trying to change things around."

The performance of Finn has caused particular debate. 18-months or so ago, it appeared England had unearthed a bowler of impressive pace and hostility who would serve them well for several years. But, under the guidance of the England coaching set-up, Finn has lost pace, control and confidence to such a degree that he was recently deemed "not selectable" by England's limited-overs coach, Ashley Giles, and sent home early from the tour for a complete break from the game. It meant Finn had not played a single international game on the tour.

"It's disappointing," Saker said. "And I take quite a bit of responsibility because my job is to get him playing well for England and that hasn't worked the way we would have liked.

"We've tried different things; he has worked extremely hard in the nets, as he always does. Some weeks we moved a long way forward and some weeks we moved a long way backwards. That was pretty much the story of the whole trip.

"We always want bowlers to be accurate and dry up runs but more than anything we just want him to run in and bowl the way he did when he first broke into the side.

"We've tried to tinker with certain things but we don't do any major overhauls of actions. We did shorten his run up in New Zealand and it did work quite well but he didn't feel comfortable with it and he went back to his long run. That was his decision.

"We keep working on different things but at the end of the day he has to decide what he wants. He has to sift through advice and see what is best for him. I'm sure he will bounce back and I'm sure it will be quickly. We want him to get better and are all trying to help him. You've got to trust your action and I don't think he trusts it. Our job is to make sure he gets an action he trusts."

But Finn's experience was not unique. England selected two other giant fast bowlers for the Ashes but both Boyd Rankin and Chris Tremlett played peripheral parts in the series. In the first Test of the series, Tremlett bowled exactly as he had done in the 2013 county season for Surrey - with skill and accuracy but without any of the menace that rendered him such a dangerous proposition in 2010-11 - before being dropped, while Rankin failed to do himself justice in the final Test of the series with a timid performance. Clearly the England set-up was unable to coax the best out of any of them.

"After the results we've had, you could say the selection was wrong," Saker said. "It's disappointing that one of the tall bowlers didn't have a big impact. They didn't put it together.

"People are looking for runs and wickets and looking for wrong things instead of just looking for how you played in the back yard with your mum and dad. That's the way you want to play.

"Sometimes it's not easy to say just run up and bowl; they do read things into it. The game is played a lot of time between the ears and you have to think really strongly about what is going into your mind."

Saker also expressed his disappointment over the "death" bowling in Brisbane, confessing that it was the lowest point in a career as England's bowling coach that began in April 2010.

"It was a hell of an innings from Faulkner, but we handed a lot of those shots to him," Saker said. "We could have bowled a lot better and I'll put my hand up straight away. It was a poor finish to an ODI game and in a sense it has to be brought onto me because we should be able to finish an innings off like that and we should be able to close off the last two overs for less than 30, but we didn't.

"That was as devastated as I've been since I've worked in this job because it was a game we should have won. We've been away for a long time and we haven't won a game and that was a game no doubt we should have won and that really hurt. Not just the bowling group but the whole team. When you're in the position I'm in you feel a lot of responsibility for that."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • wanatawu on January 24, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    Funny this is the man that went on how Anderson is the best bowler in the earlier this, now he facing the door. Funny world we live in.

  • Whatsgoinoffoutthere on January 24, 2014, 1:37 GMT

    I thought lightning never struck twice - until I saw a half fit Tim Bresnan going round the park for England.

    Making mistakes is forgivable. Making the same mistakes over and over again is where I have an issue, and that does suggest a rather more endemic problem. Tell David Saker not to shut the door on his way out because there will be a few people following him.

  • RandyOZ on January 23, 2014, 22:31 GMT

    You have to feel sorry for Saker, dragging self-obcessed trundlers like Anderson around all the time must be a huge pain

  • JG2704 on January 23, 2014, 21:33 GMT

    @BigINDFan on (January 23, 2014, 18:56 GMT) Just one think bud. You say Cook should be dropped and Bell should be made captain. May I ask why?

    We seem to get alot of folk (some English,some overseas,some pundits) who go on about Bell being fluent. Sometimes he is and when he plays fluently he is great to watch and looks more solid at the crease but by and large he is not. In ODIs Cook has both a better average and a better SR than Bell and yet Cook is seen as dour and Bell as fluent? In tests Cook has a slightly lesser SR but I wonder how the SRs compare over the last 2 years

  • JG2704 on January 23, 2014, 21:22 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (January 23, 2014, 11:54 GMT) I kind of wonder if the yorker has been coached out of the side in a tactics thing? To be fair , the back of a length ball was working well for a while but like everything Flower and co touch they seem to persist with the same tactic when it's obviously not working so well. I get the idea that when the yorker is attempted and they dont quite hit the right length it is more likely to go for big runs so they maybe think there's more margin when bowling what they bowl. However they're going for big runs these days anyway so may as well try and work on perfecting the yorker?

  • CodandChips on January 23, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    @salazar555 love your comment. Could also add Bairstow selected as a keeper who couldn't keep, nor bat at the top level. Rankin selected on ODI form despite not doing much for Warwickshire (arguably not anything to earn a place in any format)

    "This whole tour has been a shambles from the start" is a brilliant conclusion.

  • BigINDFan on January 23, 2014, 18:56 GMT

    Eng team needs Ishant Sharma as their bowling coach. He will be such an inspiration to everyone. The bowlers can say to each lets not bowl like our coach but show him how to do it :-) OK kidding aside, neither MSD nor Cook are inspirational captains. Eng needs an aggressive captain who pushes his bowlers and batsmen to play their natural game not what Andy Flower formula calls for. And the captain needs to lead by example by scoring runs or take wickets or both.

    Also Eng desperately needs free scoring openers and finishers in the lower middle order. Cook needs to go out of the ODI setup and only play Tests. Bell should be captain and KP should either open or play at No. 3.

    Ind and Eng are losing games now from being on top a year or so ago. While Ind has a new team and can only go up from here, Eng needs to rebuild soon. Both teams need new captains and not excuses and not blame coaches.

  • Iddo555 on January 23, 2014, 18:45 GMT

    Selectors jobs need to be on the line. This tour has been a shambles.

    Tremlett, Rankin, Finn, Panesar, all out of form. Carberry selected on average division 2 stats and some 20/20 form, and Bresnan coming back from an Injury and well down on pace.

    Prior out of form and his replacement Bairstow also out of form. I don't see the point of county cricket if you are going to ignore what it is telling you. The leading wicket taker in Onions doesn't even make the squad and players who had been performing poorly in county cricket like Finn, Tremlett and Panesar went.

    How much the coaches played a part in this mess I don't know but I think players, coaches, selectors, back room staff and management all need to come under the microscope as far as their positions are concerned because this whole tour has been a shambles from the start.

  • Whatsgoinoffoutthere on January 23, 2014, 16:49 GMT

    Finn & the Middlesex coaches need to go back to where he started & work out what didn't work. Forget about the no-balls for a while. Maybe even put him in the second XI for the first month of the season, to keep him out of the public eye for his first steps back.

    In contrast, Jordan is rapidly turning into a success story for his coaching; how much of that success can be claimed by Saker is doubtful.

    The selections of Tremlett & Rankin are suspect. The former was in no state to perform in international cricket & I have never thought the latter to be good enough anyway. A negative for England's bowling selections.

    Concerns about lack of pace aside, where was Graeme Onions? The England bowler with the best reputation after this tour is one who wasn't even selected! Another negative for England's bowling selections.

    Conclusion: either Saker's judgement is poor or he's being ignored. Neither are reasons for him to continue.

  • CricketMaan on January 23, 2014, 15:34 GMT

    Its funny how people see each situation. Saker admits its frustrating and devastaing etc, admiting that the whole England set up id down. Jos Butler agrees that confidence in that dressing room has taken a beating and it shows in results. Just across the sea the Indian captain having lost 4 ODIs, 1 Test in 2 months believes both he and his team are in good state of mind and there is no issues whatsoever! Games people play

  • wanatawu on January 24, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    Funny this is the man that went on how Anderson is the best bowler in the earlier this, now he facing the door. Funny world we live in.

  • Whatsgoinoffoutthere on January 24, 2014, 1:37 GMT

    I thought lightning never struck twice - until I saw a half fit Tim Bresnan going round the park for England.

    Making mistakes is forgivable. Making the same mistakes over and over again is where I have an issue, and that does suggest a rather more endemic problem. Tell David Saker not to shut the door on his way out because there will be a few people following him.

  • RandyOZ on January 23, 2014, 22:31 GMT

    You have to feel sorry for Saker, dragging self-obcessed trundlers like Anderson around all the time must be a huge pain

  • JG2704 on January 23, 2014, 21:33 GMT

    @BigINDFan on (January 23, 2014, 18:56 GMT) Just one think bud. You say Cook should be dropped and Bell should be made captain. May I ask why?

    We seem to get alot of folk (some English,some overseas,some pundits) who go on about Bell being fluent. Sometimes he is and when he plays fluently he is great to watch and looks more solid at the crease but by and large he is not. In ODIs Cook has both a better average and a better SR than Bell and yet Cook is seen as dour and Bell as fluent? In tests Cook has a slightly lesser SR but I wonder how the SRs compare over the last 2 years

  • JG2704 on January 23, 2014, 21:22 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (January 23, 2014, 11:54 GMT) I kind of wonder if the yorker has been coached out of the side in a tactics thing? To be fair , the back of a length ball was working well for a while but like everything Flower and co touch they seem to persist with the same tactic when it's obviously not working so well. I get the idea that when the yorker is attempted and they dont quite hit the right length it is more likely to go for big runs so they maybe think there's more margin when bowling what they bowl. However they're going for big runs these days anyway so may as well try and work on perfecting the yorker?

  • CodandChips on January 23, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    @salazar555 love your comment. Could also add Bairstow selected as a keeper who couldn't keep, nor bat at the top level. Rankin selected on ODI form despite not doing much for Warwickshire (arguably not anything to earn a place in any format)

    "This whole tour has been a shambles from the start" is a brilliant conclusion.

  • BigINDFan on January 23, 2014, 18:56 GMT

    Eng team needs Ishant Sharma as their bowling coach. He will be such an inspiration to everyone. The bowlers can say to each lets not bowl like our coach but show him how to do it :-) OK kidding aside, neither MSD nor Cook are inspirational captains. Eng needs an aggressive captain who pushes his bowlers and batsmen to play their natural game not what Andy Flower formula calls for. And the captain needs to lead by example by scoring runs or take wickets or both.

    Also Eng desperately needs free scoring openers and finishers in the lower middle order. Cook needs to go out of the ODI setup and only play Tests. Bell should be captain and KP should either open or play at No. 3.

    Ind and Eng are losing games now from being on top a year or so ago. While Ind has a new team and can only go up from here, Eng needs to rebuild soon. Both teams need new captains and not excuses and not blame coaches.

  • Iddo555 on January 23, 2014, 18:45 GMT

    Selectors jobs need to be on the line. This tour has been a shambles.

    Tremlett, Rankin, Finn, Panesar, all out of form. Carberry selected on average division 2 stats and some 20/20 form, and Bresnan coming back from an Injury and well down on pace.

    Prior out of form and his replacement Bairstow also out of form. I don't see the point of county cricket if you are going to ignore what it is telling you. The leading wicket taker in Onions doesn't even make the squad and players who had been performing poorly in county cricket like Finn, Tremlett and Panesar went.

    How much the coaches played a part in this mess I don't know but I think players, coaches, selectors, back room staff and management all need to come under the microscope as far as their positions are concerned because this whole tour has been a shambles from the start.

  • Whatsgoinoffoutthere on January 23, 2014, 16:49 GMT

    Finn & the Middlesex coaches need to go back to where he started & work out what didn't work. Forget about the no-balls for a while. Maybe even put him in the second XI for the first month of the season, to keep him out of the public eye for his first steps back.

    In contrast, Jordan is rapidly turning into a success story for his coaching; how much of that success can be claimed by Saker is doubtful.

    The selections of Tremlett & Rankin are suspect. The former was in no state to perform in international cricket & I have never thought the latter to be good enough anyway. A negative for England's bowling selections.

    Concerns about lack of pace aside, where was Graeme Onions? The England bowler with the best reputation after this tour is one who wasn't even selected! Another negative for England's bowling selections.

    Conclusion: either Saker's judgement is poor or he's being ignored. Neither are reasons for him to continue.

  • CricketMaan on January 23, 2014, 15:34 GMT

    Its funny how people see each situation. Saker admits its frustrating and devastaing etc, admiting that the whole England set up id down. Jos Butler agrees that confidence in that dressing room has taken a beating and it shows in results. Just across the sea the Indian captain having lost 4 ODIs, 1 Test in 2 months believes both he and his team are in good state of mind and there is no issues whatsoever! Games people play

  • 2.14istherunrate on January 23, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    I do not think that Saker is near being fired. Over time it is not the bowlers who have let England down. There is a problem with Finn and the non selection of Tremlett after Brisbane was weird,but in the main the bowling side of the equation is okay-apart from a spinner being needed which is a big problem. England need big scores to bowl at, not piffling little offerings which destroy their chances.

  • crockit on January 23, 2014, 14:34 GMT

    He tells us they like bowlers to dry up an end. This sums up England all over. Take a set of tactics that works against certain teams, with a certain mix of players on certain pitches and assume it can be applied against all teams with any mix of players in all conditions.

    On flat decks you need attacking bowlers suited to the conditions, when the decks are fast and bouncy you need at least one, preferably two or 3, very fast bowlers - ideally one of them who gets bounce. You don't need Tremlett bowling anodyne at 80-83mph. In any case what kind of message do they send out - Finn 11 wickets in two warm up games at start, Rankin 8, Tremlett 1 and they decide Tremlett bowling at almost medium pace should get preference. Then they wonder why Finn and Rankin deteriorate. Time to invest more confidence in bowlers with potential and give the grossly underperforming batters the rocket up the proverbial that they deserve

  • DaveMorton on January 23, 2014, 14:01 GMT

    Dark Harlequin, I agree totally. Players get selected for England by bowling well (unless they're called Onions), and then they come under the National Team coach, Saker currently.

    He has to justify his existence by doing something, and the result is they get confused. It's not just Finn. Look at Monty's trials, a beautiful natural bowler who did so well. Anderson before that, changed action, lost his place, went back to original; pre-Saker, I know.

    There's Adil Rashid, a great teenage prospect, who can scarcely land two an over nowadays. So many young bowlers have been tried: Kerrigan and Borthwick just the latest two. Let them learn to bowl in county cricket, select them when they're ready.....and get rid of all the skills coaches with the England team.

  • FreddyForPrimeMinister on January 23, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    England haven't been able to bowl at the death for as long as I can remember. The main reason for this though isn't our lack of a Malinga (there is only one of him) but because not a single English bowler has been able to bowl consistent yorkers since Flintoff retired. Jimmy, for all his excellence in Tests, hasn't been able to bowl yorkers since he first came onto the scene and gets hammered in every ODI/T20 match at the death. The crazy thing is that yorkers are a wonderful way of getting wickets and drying up runs in ANY form of the game; it always amazed me that bowlers don't resort to such bowling in Tests on ultra flat pitches in the sub continent, a graveyard for most fast bowlers but where the likes of Wasim and Waqar were still so potent. Jade Dernbach is the best of a bad bunch at bowling yorkers but prefers to bowl 4-5 slower balls an over. Saker could save his job by ensuring EVERY bowler practises day in, day out at hitting the yorker length until they can do so at will.

  • Harlequin. on January 23, 2014, 12:41 GMT

    Saker should have gone months ago, as evidenced by the whole feeling of this interview. Firstly he says things like 'We've tried to tinker with things' then seems to blame his bowlers for not being able to 'just run up and bowl'. It seems clear to many fans who have been watching England over the past couple of years that none of the England bowlers have been able to run up and bowl, largely because they have been tinkered with. Pace has been down, they have been unable to think clearly or confidently, they just seem under pressure and not from the opposition.

    Saker is a classic example of someone trying desperately hard to justify their own job by meddling in things and consequently ruining it.

  • cricromantic on January 23, 2014, 12:21 GMT

    Well I guess its a case of overburdened fast bowlers and inability of teams to experiment or recognise newer talent. If domestic records are anything to go by Onions should have got a chance apart from significant others. What doesnt work in cricket is a predictable bowling line up. Which is the problem area here giving multiple chances to the likes of Bresnan in search of that illusive bowling allrounder will further worsen the plot. They should just get their resource allocation right.

  • on January 23, 2014, 12:17 GMT

    Bring in Finn & solve all problems

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on January 23, 2014, 11:54 GMT

    Death bowling has been one of England's biggest weaknesses for a long time now. England are really missing a Malinga-Magic bowler; at times Broad has looked like he could do it, but he hasn't bowled a yorker for 3 years now and loves resorting to short-pitched rubbish if things go wrong. Dernbach's clever variations worked for a wee while, but then became cumbersome and unthreatening. The newbies are still finding their feet.

    In the tests, I've said all I wanted before and don't want to go on about it. They took a chance and went for the lanks, leaving tried-and-in-form bowlers back in the ranks...

  • on January 23, 2014, 11:43 GMT

    england will be fine when they again play at home this year and win on their home soul where ball moves and seems so don't worry think about this time as a bad dream and it will go away with time. england is, england was an ok team who always play better home and some times outside. never impressed by eng because they don't know how to deal with their legends. look at KP and you can figure out what's wrong in england management.

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  • on January 23, 2014, 11:43 GMT

    england will be fine when they again play at home this year and win on their home soul where ball moves and seems so don't worry think about this time as a bad dream and it will go away with time. england is, england was an ok team who always play better home and some times outside. never impressed by eng because they don't know how to deal with their legends. look at KP and you can figure out what's wrong in england management.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on January 23, 2014, 11:54 GMT

    Death bowling has been one of England's biggest weaknesses for a long time now. England are really missing a Malinga-Magic bowler; at times Broad has looked like he could do it, but he hasn't bowled a yorker for 3 years now and loves resorting to short-pitched rubbish if things go wrong. Dernbach's clever variations worked for a wee while, but then became cumbersome and unthreatening. The newbies are still finding their feet.

    In the tests, I've said all I wanted before and don't want to go on about it. They took a chance and went for the lanks, leaving tried-and-in-form bowlers back in the ranks...

  • on January 23, 2014, 12:17 GMT

    Bring in Finn & solve all problems

  • cricromantic on January 23, 2014, 12:21 GMT

    Well I guess its a case of overburdened fast bowlers and inability of teams to experiment or recognise newer talent. If domestic records are anything to go by Onions should have got a chance apart from significant others. What doesnt work in cricket is a predictable bowling line up. Which is the problem area here giving multiple chances to the likes of Bresnan in search of that illusive bowling allrounder will further worsen the plot. They should just get their resource allocation right.

  • Harlequin. on January 23, 2014, 12:41 GMT

    Saker should have gone months ago, as evidenced by the whole feeling of this interview. Firstly he says things like 'We've tried to tinker with things' then seems to blame his bowlers for not being able to 'just run up and bowl'. It seems clear to many fans who have been watching England over the past couple of years that none of the England bowlers have been able to run up and bowl, largely because they have been tinkered with. Pace has been down, they have been unable to think clearly or confidently, they just seem under pressure and not from the opposition.

    Saker is a classic example of someone trying desperately hard to justify their own job by meddling in things and consequently ruining it.

  • FreddyForPrimeMinister on January 23, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    England haven't been able to bowl at the death for as long as I can remember. The main reason for this though isn't our lack of a Malinga (there is only one of him) but because not a single English bowler has been able to bowl consistent yorkers since Flintoff retired. Jimmy, for all his excellence in Tests, hasn't been able to bowl yorkers since he first came onto the scene and gets hammered in every ODI/T20 match at the death. The crazy thing is that yorkers are a wonderful way of getting wickets and drying up runs in ANY form of the game; it always amazed me that bowlers don't resort to such bowling in Tests on ultra flat pitches in the sub continent, a graveyard for most fast bowlers but where the likes of Wasim and Waqar were still so potent. Jade Dernbach is the best of a bad bunch at bowling yorkers but prefers to bowl 4-5 slower balls an over. Saker could save his job by ensuring EVERY bowler practises day in, day out at hitting the yorker length until they can do so at will.

  • DaveMorton on January 23, 2014, 14:01 GMT

    Dark Harlequin, I agree totally. Players get selected for England by bowling well (unless they're called Onions), and then they come under the National Team coach, Saker currently.

    He has to justify his existence by doing something, and the result is they get confused. It's not just Finn. Look at Monty's trials, a beautiful natural bowler who did so well. Anderson before that, changed action, lost his place, went back to original; pre-Saker, I know.

    There's Adil Rashid, a great teenage prospect, who can scarcely land two an over nowadays. So many young bowlers have been tried: Kerrigan and Borthwick just the latest two. Let them learn to bowl in county cricket, select them when they're ready.....and get rid of all the skills coaches with the England team.

  • crockit on January 23, 2014, 14:34 GMT

    He tells us they like bowlers to dry up an end. This sums up England all over. Take a set of tactics that works against certain teams, with a certain mix of players on certain pitches and assume it can be applied against all teams with any mix of players in all conditions.

    On flat decks you need attacking bowlers suited to the conditions, when the decks are fast and bouncy you need at least one, preferably two or 3, very fast bowlers - ideally one of them who gets bounce. You don't need Tremlett bowling anodyne at 80-83mph. In any case what kind of message do they send out - Finn 11 wickets in two warm up games at start, Rankin 8, Tremlett 1 and they decide Tremlett bowling at almost medium pace should get preference. Then they wonder why Finn and Rankin deteriorate. Time to invest more confidence in bowlers with potential and give the grossly underperforming batters the rocket up the proverbial that they deserve

  • 2.14istherunrate on January 23, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    I do not think that Saker is near being fired. Over time it is not the bowlers who have let England down. There is a problem with Finn and the non selection of Tremlett after Brisbane was weird,but in the main the bowling side of the equation is okay-apart from a spinner being needed which is a big problem. England need big scores to bowl at, not piffling little offerings which destroy their chances.

  • CricketMaan on January 23, 2014, 15:34 GMT

    Its funny how people see each situation. Saker admits its frustrating and devastaing etc, admiting that the whole England set up id down. Jos Butler agrees that confidence in that dressing room has taken a beating and it shows in results. Just across the sea the Indian captain having lost 4 ODIs, 1 Test in 2 months believes both he and his team are in good state of mind and there is no issues whatsoever! Games people play