“There is never a great time to leave an international set-up,” said Paul Farbrace on Saturday after announcing his decision to depart his role as England’s assistant coach to join Warwickshire as sporting director.
Farbrace is right, but his timing, ahead of what he calls “a fantastic summer for English cricket”, is particularly inconvenient with the World Cup and Ashes on the horizon.
The 51-year-old will leave the England camp at the end of the current tour of the Caribbean in mid-March before joining Warwickshire ahead of the county season.
A “key figure in England’s success across the red and white ball formats” over the past five years, as England’s managing director Ashley Giles put it, Farbrace will be a significant loss.
Alongside coach Trevor Bayliss and captain Eoin Morgan, he has been influential in England’s one-day cricket turnaround from hopeless group stage exit at the 2015 World Cup to world No1 and clear favourites for this year’s edition.
It was he who, as interim head coach, originally sparked the revival before Bayliss’s arrival in July 2015 and it was he who helped maintained the hands-off, carefree, attacking approach which has since seen the bar repeatedly raised for one-day totals.
Having been integral in leading a side which has won 14 of 17 series since the 2015 World Cup, why leave on the eve of what it has all been building towards?
“I need to freshen up,” Farbrace said. “International cricket is not something you can do halfheartedly. If I’d stayed, it would have been for the wrong reasons. From a very selfish point of view I’d love to have been there at Lord’s on 14 July watching Eoin Morgan lift the World Cup, but the feeling was this is the right time.”
Warwickshire had given him the option to join the club in September, but Farbrace felt it was better to change jobs before the county season started. Ultimately it seems the former Middlesex and Kent wicketkeeper has chosen the job security of Warwickshire rather than the impending uncertainty of England.
His decision means Giles – ironically the man Farbrace is succeeding at Edgbaston – is left to make significant decisions about England’s future just one month into his new role.
With Farbrace leaving in March, Giles himself having replaced Andrew Strauss in January and Bayliss set to step down in September, England find themselves navigating turbulence off the pitch in the year when they really should be focused upon events on it.
“I don’t think it will destabilise the mood at all,” Farbrace said. “Things move on very quickly.”
They will have to. With the short time frame until the World Cup starts on 30 May and eventual departure of Bayliss after the final Ashes Test on 12 September, Giles needs to consider two appointments at once.
The idea of Farbrace’s replacement then taking over from Bayliss looks to be a way of killing two birds with one stone. Paul Collingwood, currently part of the limited-overs coaching team, is an obvious front-runner, with bowling coach Chris Silverwood and Lions boss Andy Flower potentially in the picture too.
Whoever he chooses, Giles’s decisions could be crucial to shaping a successful summer for England.