Date: May 12 2012
CRAIG McDermott's unexpected resignation has left Cricket Australia with a gaping hole in its Ashes planning, with several fancied bowling coaches committed to rival nations. But there are a couple of potential replacements closer to home.
David Saker (England), Allan Donald (South Africa) and Damien Wright (New Zealand) would all have to be prised away from their jobs, although Wright's family is in Melbourne and the recent upheaval in New Zealand coaching is expected to influence his thinking. John Wright recently stepped down as head coach of the Black Caps, whose bowlers embarrassed Australia's batsmen under Damien Wright's tutelage last November.
CA, with its recent emphasis on gathering global intelligence, is expected to at least make inquiries about the availability of opposition bowling coaches, but it would presumably take a massive offer to lure Saker given he was completely overlooked by CA before accepting the England job.
One less heralded candidate mentioned by cricket insiders is Andy Bichel, the former Test paceman who was allowed to continue as bowling coach for the Chennai Super Kings after his appointment as a national selector, as it was considered helpful for the selection panel to have an eye on Australians performing in the Indian Premier League.
Another is the Tasmanian assistant coach Allister de Winter, who was pipped for McDermott's job this time last year but played a critical role in restoring the pace and swing of Ben Hilfenhaus, who rose from the scrap heap to become one of Australia's most dangerous bowlers last summer.
The hurdle faced by de Winter is that he did not progress beyond first-class cricket with Tasmania, and one of McDermott's greatest attributes was said to be his Test experience, which amounted to 291 wickets in 71 matches (and a huge amount of empathy with his charges.)
McDermott achieved a remarkable amount in his one year in the job.
He said he had stepped down because of the demanding touring schedule; he has twins of primary-school age as well as a 20-year-old son, Alister, carving out a promising career with Queensland.
With a simple mantra - pitch the ball up and swing it - McDermott was not only instrumental in the emergence of an exciting batch of young pacemen, including James Pattinson and Patrick Cummins, but helped senior men including Peter Siddle and Hilfenhaus reinvent themselves after the Ashes disaster of 2010-11. ''This stuff hasn't changed since W. G. Grace,'' he said of his reason for coaxing the bowlers to stop bowling back of a length and pitch the ball fuller.
The results were spectacular, but as team performance chief Pat Howard said this week, the job of restoring Australia as the No. 1 cricket nation was unfinished.
Howard and coach Mickey Arthur will talk soon about the needs of the crop of quicks with a view to hiring a coach for next month's one-day international tour of the British Isles.
The national teams face a gruelling schedule, with the ICC World Twenty20 tournament leading into a home summer against South Africa and Sri Lanka, four Tests in India and back-to-back Ashes series.
''The team's schedule is a particularly busy one and after looking at the upcoming touring demands, I felt this to be the right decision from a personal and professional point of view,'' McDermott said.
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