Cricket Comment: England want to land a big fish

Chris Tremlett
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Jason Gillespie is set to discuss the England head coach’s positon with Andrew Strauss
CARETAKER boss Paul Farbrace this week threw his hat into the ring to become England’s head coach on a full-time basis. I think he has a chance but my gut feeling is that England are after a bigger fish.

Having said that, he has the opportunity to impress over the next few weeks during the two-Test series with New Zealand, which starts today at Lord’s, and if England blow the Black Caps away his stock will rise and his credentials to land the job full-time will be enhanced.

Good luck to him but, like I say, I think England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss will be looking for someone with more experience in coaching or a greater CV in terms of playing international cricket.

Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie has been the hot favourite since Peter Moores was sacked and last night the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) looked to be firming up their interest by approaching his current employers for permission to speak to him.

One question which only Gillespie can answer is whether he would be happy to go along with the ECB’s stance on Kevin Pietersen. Any new coach will presumably want to control as much as they can and select the best players. KP falls into that bracket.

England may not have a permanent coach in place going into the first day of the international summer, but once the Test match starts those sort of things will be forgotten. Skipper Alastair Cook is more in charge than the coach out on the pitch anyway.

Nevertheless, New Zealand, who are two places ahead of England in the Test rankings, will prove tough opponents and it is important that Cook’s side go into the Ashes later this summer with some momentum and confidence.

For the batsmen, that means time in the middle. They will not have played much since the West Indies tour and will be coming up against a splendid bowling attack in Tim Southee and Trent Boult. Those two are likely to get the ball swinging around at Lord’s.

In terms of the bowlers, seamer Stuart Broad has struggled of late and needs to find some rhythm. He tends to bowl better in English conditions but he has to step his game up because he has been below par for the last year with both bat and ball. I imagine Chris Jordan will be the third seamer and he is someone else who needs to come up with some more consistent form. He has shown himself to be a brilliant slip fielder but has to contribute more.

Today is the first day of a big summer for Cook too. Strauss has confirmed that he will be Test captain for the Ashes so he can relax on that score but the spotlight is still going to be on him.

Some pressure will have been relieved with his century in Barbados earlier this month and criticism of his captaincy has not been as loud of late. But if he gets another run of low scores or the team starts losing heading into the Ashes, questions will be asked again.

And no matter what anybody says, the KP stuff will still hang over his head and be at the back of his mind. That issue will keep coming up all summer and it will be a test for Cook and England to forget that distraction.

If England bat first today, hopefully Cook the batsman can come out and set the tone and continue the positive form he showed in the Caribbean.

Finally, Adam Lyth is set to make his Test debut for England. Having played against him in county cricket he looks a very good player and I expect him to do well in international cricket.

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