So the applications are in. The runners and riders have been announced. The race to be England’s new head coach in all formats of the game is on.
As the ECB are incredibly wealthy – with the power to attract almost any coach in the world – you’d expect a start-studded shortlist full of big names with CV’s longer than Ryan Sidebottom’s hair.
It makes sense too, right. Because the ECB are about as popular with the English cricketing public as dysentery at Glastonbury, surely they’ll appease us all by appointing a head coach with wow factor; a guy with a pedigree so impressive we’ll all be saying “Kevin who?” by the time England play Scotland in May.
Well, err, not quite I’m afraid. The shortlist of five for the England head coach’s position is about as inspiring as overcooked cabbage.
The two favourites for the job are coaches who have already failed miserably at international level (Giles and Peter Moores), then there’s the unsung and modest Mick Newell, and Mark Robinson, who speaks like he’s just come out of an ECB media-training session … which of course being the England Lions coach, he has.
The fifth man on the list, Trevor Bayliss, is the only candidate of genuine proven quality – which obviously means he’s the outsider for the position. Bayliss is a superb candidate with an excellent record at both international and domestic level. All things being equal he should be offered the job on a silver platter, but there’s just one problem: he’s Australian.
I find it incredible that the ECB have had weeks to compile a shortlist, have paid consultants handsomely for helping with the search, and this motley crew is the best they can do.
I suppose the elephant in the room is that none of the best coaches in the world want to work for such a terrible employer. Gary Kirsten’s decision to appoint Pietersen as captain of his IPL franchise just about sums the situation up. It tells us all we need to know about how the rest of the world view our cricket board and its eccentric decisions.
The fact that Ashley Giles is still the favourite, despite his pitiful record as England’s limited overs coach, speaks volumes too. The bookies know what the ECB’s agenda is, and they realise that Giles ticks all the boxes: team man (check) says all the right things (check) as loyal as a lapdog (check) an inspirational leader with an brilliant cricket mind, (no, but since when does that matter).
Following our woeful defeat to Holland, some experts believe Moores is in pole position. Indeed, Michael Atherton has speculated as much.
Moores ticks an important box because there’s no chance he’d ever ask for Pietersen to be recalled. He also smiles nicely and would make a brilliant uncle – which means he’d complement the selection panel brilliantly.
The fact he’s already been England coach, and was absolutely rubbish at it, seems irrelevant. And in case you’re wondering, it wasn’t just KP who criticised Moores’ methods. A host of players, including Andrew Strauss, criticised him for failing to appreciate the differences between county cricket and the international game.
According to Moores, however, we should fear not. Apparently he’s gone away and learned a lot over the last few years – including, presumably, how to get the defending country champions relegated.
We’re all meant to believe there’s no way he’d make the same mistakes again – mistakes like being crap and being out of his depth are obviously one’s he’ll want to avoid second time around.
Perhaps I’m being cynical. Maybe Moores would do a good job. After all, he’s got to be slightly preferably to Giles, right? Well, that might be the case, but if you think appointing Moores would be a good idea then consider this:
Do you think Steve McLaren should manage the England football team again, just because he claims he’s learned a good deal since being sacked? I hear that Graham Taylor has learned a hell of a lot too. Maybe he should be given another crack?
The circus continues …