Mickey Arthur, the former South Africa coach, is the front-runner to replace Tom Moody at Western Australia after the state finalised a four-man short-list. Arthur resigned his highly successful international post in January and was quick to express his interest in crossing the Indian Ocean to test his skills in the Australian first-class arena.

He could be employed as early as next month with Graeme Wood, the Western Australia chief executive, wanting to make a quick appointment. Wood confirmed the association had decided on a confidential short-list and he expects to conduct interviews over the next two weeks.

"We're very happy with the four applicants," Wood told Cricinfo. "They are all experienced coaches. We would like someone as soon as possible because the state contract process starts in April."

Arthur would be a significant signing after taking South Africa to the top of the one-day and Test rankings during almost five years in charge. A highlight of his reign was the victory over Australia at the WACA - which could be his new home - when his side chased 414 on the way to a breakthrough series win in 2008-09. He has been doing commentary and writing a book since his exit from the South African set-up.

"I really hope it happens," Arthur told the West Australian before the short-list was decided. "The challenge of getting West Australian cricket back to the top is one that I would relish and I am very keen to take it up if I am offered the job."

John Wright, the former India coach, has also been mentioned as a candidate while Geoff Marsh, the former opening batsman, is a local contender with a useful resume. Marsh's first senior coaching job was with Australia, who he took to a World Cup win in 1999, and he has also looked after Zimbabwe. However, having his sons Shaun and Mitchell in the squad would complicate the role.

It will be a tricky task for the new coach as the side regularly under-achieves despite always producing talent for the national sides. Moody, who is in charge of the IPL side Kings XI Punjab, left after three seasons and his best result was runner-up in the Twenty20 competition in his opening year. Last week Western Australia beat Queensland in the final round of the Sheffield Shield to avoid the wooden spoon.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo