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New coaches take Twenty20 bow

The ICC World Twenty20 will be the first international tournament for a number of national team coaches, among them England’s Peter Moores. Tim Nielsen with Australia, Pakistan’s Geoff Lawson, Trevor Bayliss of Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe’s Robin Brown are also taking charge for the first time at a major event.

All, of course, will be hoping to do well, but what particular challenges and pressures are they facing in their new roles?

PETER MOORES – ENGLAND

England will fancy their chances in the tournament as their players have the most experience of the Twenty20 format.

They also go to South Africa buoyed by their 4-3 victory in the one-day international series against India.

Moores’ squad includes a number of players who have excelled in domestic Twenty20, among them Darren Maddy of Warwickshire, Leicestershire’s Jeremy Snape and young Sussex all-rounder Luke Wright.

But can Moores, still relatively fresh to the England coaching position, coax international-quality performances from them?

He will also have to find a stable side with the right balance, which could be problematic if talisman Andrew Flintoff continues to be hampered by injury.

TIM NIELSEN – AUSTRALIA

Surprising as it may sound, taking over the job of coaching the world’s best team could be a mammoth task for new coach Tim Nielsen.

Wilf McGuinness, who followed Sir Matt Busby at Manchester United, and Andy Robinson, who took over as England coach after their Rugby World Cup win, could both tell Nielsen a thing or two about the pressure of following success.

Australia’s success under previous coach John Buchanan was achieved with a group of players who are now either retired from international cricket (Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Justin Langer) – or at the veteran stage (Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden).

Though Ponting, Gilchrist and Hayden remain, and dynamic fast bowler Brett Lee has returned, Nielsen will look to the likes of all-rounder Shane Watson and young paceman Ben Hilfenhaus to step up a level. As the former head of their centre of excellence, Nielsen should be well placed to assess Australia’s upcoming talent.

But a more immediate worry is Australia’s lack of experience in Twenty20. Nielsen could have a difficult job getting his team up for the tournament and must learn quickly the tactics needed for success in this shorter format.

And he must do so without having spent much time before the tournament with his captain, Ponting, who joins the squad late after his wife was ill. A good working relationship between coach and captain is vital to a team’s success.

TREVOR BAYLISS – SRI LANKA

Having taken over from Tom Moody, fellow Australian Trevor Bayliss finds himself in a similar position to Nielsen – finding new success with a talented but ageing side.

Much of their success has been built on the 1,457 international wickets of veteran off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, but injury has ruled him out of the competition. They still have plenty of experience in the likes of Chaminda Vaas and Sanath Jayasuriya, but Sri Lanka are unused to this new format – they have played only one international Twenty20.

But Bayliss is a coach who can find a winning formula quickly, as he showed on winning the Pura Cup, Australia’s premier domestic competition, in his first year in charge of New South Wales. He now has to translate that talent to the international arena.

GEOFF LAWSON – PAKISTAN

As Pakistan’s new coach, Geoff Lawson has one of the most difficult jobs in world cricket.

Pakistan have had eight coaches in the last 11 years and were rocked by the death of Bob Woolmer during the 50-over World Cup earlier this year.

They have also lost star batsman Mohammad Yousuf to the rebel Indian Cricket League and Inzamam-ul-Haq to one-day retirement. The former Australian fast bowler has to bring together a fractious group of players and get them to play to their undoubted potential.

The departure from the squad of paceman Shoaib Akhtar, after a clash with Mohammad Asif during training, indicates how difficult that job will be. Does Lawson possess the necessary man-management skills to do so? His coaching ability is untested at international level, his only experience being at New South Wales. Added to that, he must also win over the Pakistan media, which was critical of his appointment.

ROBIN BROWN – ZIMBABWE

Former Zimbabwe captain Robin Brown was only appointed coach in July so has not had much time to prepare for the tournament.

Previous coach Kevin Curran had a difficult relationship with a number of his players and Brown must build a better rapport with his squad.

However, despite the return of former captain Tatenda Taibu, the side remains weak. Internal strife within Zimbabwe cricket means a number of the country’s better players remain unavailable for selection.

It will be a tough task for Brown to lift the team from rock bottom.

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  1. September 10, 2007 at 12:43 pm
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