Thorpe in frame for head coach job
Ashley Giles, England’s director of men’s cricket, was determined that the search for a new coach should not distract from the twin monumental challenges of the summer. Now that the World Cup and Ashes are over, there is an urgency about finding a replacement for Trevor Bayliss.
While the exact nature of the process will be announced by Giles on Friday, Graham Thorpe, England’s batting coach, is understood to be in line to be interviewed for the post. So is Chris Silverwood, England’s bowling coach.
There is a long-term desire to promote more home-grown coaches, with Peter Moores – twice – the only Englishman to be head coach this century. Alec Stewart, Surrey’s director of cricket, is the most likely Englishman from outside the current set-up.
Still, there remains a strong chance that the process will end with England looking overseas again. Andrew Mcdonald, who has already won all three Australian domestic trophies, met informally with Giles this summer. Fellow Australian Tom Moody – who, like Mcdonald, was recently appointed as a coach for the Hundred – is another strong contender, boasting both international pedigree with Sri Lanka and extensive Twenty20 experience around the world.
Jason Gillespie, who was close to getting the job in 2015, remains an attractive option, while Mickey Arthur has a fine record with touring teams in England and led Pakistan to No1 in the Test rankings in 2016.
The current Ireland head coach, Graham Ford, who performed well with Sri Lanka and South Africa, is also a potential candidate. So is Mike Hesson, who excelled as New Zealand coach. Last month, Hesson was appointed director of cricket operations for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Whoever is appointed, the whole process will be shaped by the changing market for coaches. Despite such a pulsating summer, cricket is going through a shift from being predominantly a sport defined by international games to one whose structure looks a little more like football, with international and domestic fixtures sharing the stage.
T20 leagues mean that the proportion of the game’s revenue derived from club v club matches is rising; India now earn over twice as much in broadcasting rights for the Indian Premier League as for home internationals.
The ripple effects of this shift will help determine the identity of England’s next coach. For instance, Stephen Fleming, the former New Zealand captain, would be a compelling candidate – but he is ensconced as Chennai Super Kings coach, has an advisory role with the Melbourne Stars and is now head coach of the Trent Rockets in the Hundred, too.
To give all this up, and become a full-time international coach, Fleming would have to accept doing more work for less money – the same equation faced by many of the most coveted coaches worldwide. Giles’s preference to appoint only one overall head coach – rather than one each for the red and whiteball games – further limits the potential pool.
While the new head coach should get more time off than Bayliss, with the three assistants stepping up for some series, they can still expect to be away from home for at least 200 days a year. That is believed to have put off candidates such as Gary Kirsten, who is yet another potential target who has a Hundred contract. Indeed, one central irony of the new competition is that it has contributed to the England head coach role becoming less attractive.
So, who replaces Bayliss will not just be determined by who England want, but by who wants England.