So much for Gary Kirsten’s imminent appointment as England head coach. It seemed to be an open goal. But when the ECB is your main striker, and they’ve got a conversion rate worse than Emile Heskey, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that they’re taking a touch too many. The expression ‘couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo’ immediately springs to mind. Let’s hope they hit their main target eventually.
When your number one choice – who just happens to be one of the most decorated and respected coaches in the game – declares his interest in the job and flies over for talks, it’s normal procedure to sign him up there and then. However, the rumour is that Kirsten underwhelmed in a presentation at his interview, and now Ashley Giles is overanalysing everything:
Apparently Gilo and Co are worried that Kirsten’s heart isn’t in it because he initially said he’d only be interesting in the job if there were separate red and white ball coaches (even though everyone knew this before he flew in to London a few days ago). If it wasn’t a problem then, why is it a problem now?
What’s more, it seems logical that Kirsten only said he’d prefer split coaches because he’s always been clear that he wishes to spend time with his family. Well, we were led to believe that Giles had made some concessions on this front in order to get Kirsten’s signature over the line. Indeed, Kirsten only flew over for his interview because these concessions had been made.
Consequently, it seems to me – admittedly from some way away on the outside – that the only thing which has changed is Kirsten’s underwhelming presentation. Because he didn’t wow like Ed Smith on steroids, the brain trust is now looking at everything through a completely different lens; therefore statements that weren’t previously a problem suddenly look like problems.
Now I must admit that I’m something of a cynic and a curmudgeon when it comes to things like interview presentations. Yes I admit they’re probably necessary in some professions – if you’re expected to present frequently in the role you’re applying for then it’s only natural that your prospective employers would like to see you in action – but Kirsten was applying for the job of England head coach. Why on earth does he have to dazzle with PowerPoint presentations? The only thing the ECB needs to focus on is his CV.
If I was Gary Kirsten, I’d actually feel a little peeved about jumping through hoops like this. He’s Gary Kirsten for f**k sake. He knows more about international cricket coaching than all the other people in the room put together. If I was him my presentation would’ve lasted two seconds and involved all of four words: “I. AM. GARY. KIRSTEN”. Although I might have added “and you’ll be lucky to have me” at the end.
So now that the pygmy’s are doubting the stature of the man in front of them, where are they going to look now? Apparently there are two prime candidates now that Alec Stewart, who would’ve been my second choice, has pulled out of the running: Graham Ford and Chris Silverwood.
If it was up to me I would appoint Ford in a heartbeat. Like Kirsten he has experience around the world, he’s very well respected, and he knows the county game extremely well having coached both Kent and Surrey. Indeed, Kumar Sangakkara, who I think we can all agree knows a thing or two about the game, said that one of the reasons why he signed for Surrey was the opportunity to work with Ford.
Apparently, however, the ECB might be leaning towards Silverwood. Why? Because he’s English, and they’re very aware of the flak they’ve received for appointing eight foreign coaches to head up the eight Hundred franchises.
Now I’ve got nothing against Silverwood. He’s done a good job as England’s bowling coach and by all reports he’s a nice fella. The players like him and he’d certainly be a good fit for the teams all important (someone quickly pass the sick bucket) ‘culture’. However, he’s incredibly wet behind the ears as a coach.
Silverwood’s resume is threadbare. He only has a couple of years’ experience as a head coach anywhere. Yes he won the county championship with Essex during this time but plenty of coaches have won the county championship. And Essex have just won it again. Therefore it would be dangerous to read too much into this single achievement.
Overall I feel it would be extremely odd to take a chance on an inexperienced coach like Silverwood over tried and trusted candidates like Kirsten (and Ford). The gulf between the candidates is enormous.
What’s more, I fear that Giles and the ECB will pick the wrong man for the wrong reason i.e. they’ll pick the lesser coach simply because they’re worried they’ll be criticised for ignoring English coaches again.
The Hundred already has a lot to answer for. It’s alienating supporters, potentially threatening the county structure, and there’s little doubt that it will hurt the England test team by pushing the championship to the fringes of the season.
However, if it now prevents our test team from appointing the best England head coach for the job (simply because the ECB made a mistake in appointing a plethora of foreign coaches to head up it’s franchises) it would be a new low.
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