So who’s in the running to replace Andy Flower as England team director? Here’s The Full Toss guide to the names in the frame…
Ashley Yesman Highly regarded at the ECB ever since he coached Derbyshire to a spectacular fourth place Division Two finish in the 2009 county championship, Yesman is widely seen as a safe pair of hands. His credentials are strong in all three areas known to impress management: keeping his blazer buttons nicely polished, doing whatever Giles Clarke tells him to, and probably not liking Kevin Pietersen very much. As coach, he’d revolutionise England policy – by moving away from the former policy of picking loads of Essex players, to a new policy of picking loads of Warwickshire players.
Gary Biltong Impressive though the South African’s international coaching record may be, doubts have already arisen over the practicalities of his taking the England job. According to reports, Biltong is prepared to leave his sitting room for only three hours a year, although sources say he is perfectly happy to oversee net sessions via Skype. Another snag lies in the controversy likely to be aroused by the appointment of another supremo from overseas, and the culture clash it may cause – especially as at least three of the England test squad weren’t even born in South Africa.
Sir Ian Bombast No one denies that the England setup sorely needs an injection not only of swashbuckling patriotism, but also battle-hardened mettle borne of heroic endeavour in a Three Lions shirt. And who better to supply these qualities than a former England legend who’s seen it, done it, and bought the t-shirt. That’s why many analysts are pointing to the talent within the commentary box, from whose serried ranks Sir Ian’s credentials remain unique.
His manifesto as coach is likely to include a new approach to training, with net sessions phased out in favour of compulsory yard-of-ale contests and pre-match belching tournaments. Sir Ian is also thought to favour a reworking of field-setting tactics, and advocates the posting of seven slips, four gullies, two short legs, and a ring of eleven men across the covers. Oh, and a long on. And another slip.
The case for Sir Ian also cites the vast experience of international cricket he’s acquired from two decades of commentary, including his unrivalled knowledge of the quality of Merlot served in press boxes around the world.
Peter Moneyball The ECB may favour a continuity of approach in the form of a coach who has mastered the statistical analysis of modern professional cricket. In his years in the county game, Moneyball impressed many with his findings that 42% of sides concede a first innings lead when egg sandwiches are served at tea, and that left handed wicket-keepers never average above 22 in a year when one of Louis Walsh’s acts wins The X Factor.
At the test level, Moneyball would have the opportunity to orientate strategy around some of his other data-deduced hypotheses: that 100% of Joe Root and Tim Bresnan are from Yorkshire, and that Mitchell Johnson’s moustache looks droopier on Tuesdays.
Mickey Crap Rumoured to have spent the last 72 hours hanging around outside the ECB offices on the off-chance he “accidentally” bumps into Paul Downton, the former South Africa and Australia team boss, while on paper a long-shot, has won backing in some Lord’s circles on the basis of his coaching pedigree.
“Just look at his track record”, a source told The Full Toss. “Mickey took three young fast bowlers, Starc, Pattinson and Cummins, just when they were really promising, and turned them into injury-ravaged wrecks who can’t get in the team. Then Mickey took some of the most promising young batsmen in domestic cricket, and left them with their confidence destroyed and unable to play spin. So in terms of the traditions of the English game, he’ll fit in very nicely”.
Robert Mugabe The ECB are believed to have engaged a leading City headhunting firm to earmarked the best candidate to replace Andy Flower. Although yet at an early stage, indications suggest the team have identified the following factors as intrinsic to successful England coaches over the last fifteen years. 1 – a ruthless streak. 2 – a refusal to compromise. And 3 – coming from Zimbabwe. Of the three only known men to fulfil all these criteria, the other two have already been tried.