Sunday, 29 March 2009

Suggestions for England's next coach?

As I write, a Dimitri Mascarenhas-inspired England are fighting back well in the first innings of the 4th one-dayer. It is worth noting, in passing, that Mascarenhas' ODI batting strike rate of 96.41 is the best in the England team and his economy rate of 4.53 second only to Flintoff's (in spite of the Chris Gayle pasting in the last match) and far ahead of his next best teammate - the statistics aren't the full story, but Shane Warne's perennially high estimation of Mascarenhas' potential in international one-day cricket may perhaps be justified.

The main significance of this match, though, is that it may determine whether Andy Flower can really be deemed a credible candidate for the vacant England coach's job - especially if, as seems very possible, the series ends today. With only one victory over the Windies this winter - and that largely down to the Duckworth-Lewis miscalculations of his opposite number, John Dyson - Flower can surely not compete with seasoned international coaches such as John Wright and Mickey Arthur, tipped for the job in the Sunday Times by John Stern, editor of the Wisden Cricketer. The (much-cited) strength of Flower's relationship with Strauss is all well and good, but how hard can it really be to get on with the affable England captain?

Yet I share Scyld Berry's scepticism that Arthur, on the brink of bringing South Africa to the pinnacle in both forms of the game, would choose to leave that challenge behind. In Arthur's interview on Radio Five Live this morning, he doesn't quite rule the possibility out (the very fact of giving the interview might be viewed as putting himself in the shop window), but seems to stress that he sees the England job as something he'd like to do further down the line (most probably after his contract with SA ends in 2012).

John Wright and John Dyson have had some success with India and Sri Lanka respectively, but both are at early stages of projects with New Zealand and West Indies. Stories of Wright's often confrontational dressing-room approach - he once took Sehwag by the collar after a reckless dismissal - might also work against him. With Graham Ford also ruling himself out and John Buchanan evidently enjoying the prospect of managing the Kolkata Knight Riders, it is hard to see what precisely the head-hunters' options are...

Any ideas?

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