Why England may get Mickey

2009-04-01 11:21

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Perhaps the rumour will stay ripe for a while. Maybe it will go away very quickly as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) simply name somebody else. “Finish and klaar,” as we say in these parts.

My own, unashamedly gut-feel forecast? Armed with no special additional intelligence than isn’t out in the open already, I fancy that Mickey Arthur will mastermind England’s assault on the Ashes in mid-year.

Everything depends, of course, on how much England, not exactly perkiest campers in the world after their embarrassing Test series defeat in the questionably resurgent West Indies, actually want the Proteas coach.

If he tops their list, as has been speculated in some circles, it’s a very good start.

They are in a position to pay him well – trebling his current R1.35m annual salary, if the UK’s Daily Mail is to be believed – and also to compensate Cricket South Africa if necessary, as he has a renewed deal with them to 2012.

Money talks louder to some people than it does to others, but it talks all the same … even if mercenary or devious bones are unlikely to be found too easily in Arthur’s body.

He will be comfortable already. A successful stint at the England helm could secure his family’s financial security for life.

Nor should Arthur, for whom integrity has been a pleasing bedfellow, be crucified in the event that he does dramatically swap green tracksuit for blue some time in the next few weeks.

He has served South Africa splendidly, gradually – and not without some educative bumps in the path, it must be said – restoring the Proteas to top of the ODI pile and within a whisker or two of seizing the Test championship mace from long-time custodians Australia after historic series wins both Down Under and in England.

Not only that, but a strong template is in place for achievement of another hitherto elusive goal: winning the World Cup in 2011.

Suddenly the South African side, with its budding battery of ballsy and thinking limited-overs spinners, looks tidily equipped for the Subcontinent’s pitches if the tournament is, indeed, able to proceed in the volatile region.

Arthur is probably not selling anybody any porkies by his “official” line at present, which is that he is contracted to South Africa for another three years and has certainly not been touting himself to England.

It may well be a case of awaiting their likely call and taking things from there.

He was also honest enough to tell BBC Radio: “I find it very hard to believe any ambitious coach would rule himself out (of the England job) completely.”

My suspicion that Arthur will find an approach hard to resist is based on several other considerations, too. In overall terms, I just think the planets are attractively aligned for the move.

For one thing, I don’t believe Gerald Majola, the Cricket South Africa CEO with whom he has had healthy and respectful relations, would put an unduly angry, intransigent foot in his way.

There would be regret, yes, and perhaps some delicate compromises to be reached, but I don’t believe naked hostility would accompany Arthur’s boss’s reaction. They have crossed too many rickety bridges – and a few golden highways -- together for that to be the case.

Then there’s also the business savviness, transcending even monetary matters: Arthur would be selling off some shares shrewdly while they’re “up” (South Africa) and very much investing in new ones while they’re “down” (England).

There is a school of thought that Arthur would be “mad” to take on England right now. My retort would be that a series reverse in the Caribbean is exactly when to take the tiller of a team that nevertheless still possesses some heavyweight individual names, in need of mended unity and new purpose.

And my feeling that Arthur might well accept an ECB-dangled carrot was only enhanced by a piece in London’s Sunday Times by John Stern, editor of The Wisden Cricketer.

Stern said a shortlist of candidates is being presently drawn up by headhunters Odgers Ray and Berndtson. (They punt themselves as “the leading UK executive recruitment business”.)

That list will probably include England’s acting coach Andy Flower, who has been earning some sympathetic media reviews despite the national team’s struggle, former India coach John Wright, the West Indies incumbent John Dyson and “strongest candidate” Arthur.

“He is known to like the UK, and it is only his loyalty to South Africa that would compromise a desire to take on arguably the top coaching job in cricket,” Stern wrote.

Interviews will be conducted by Hugh Morris, the England team’s managing director, in consultation with ECB vice-chairman Dennis Amiss, with a view to having the new coach in place for England’s home mini-series revenge opportunity against West Indies in May. (I’d venture, for what it’s worth, that the appointee would get off to a morale-lifting, winning start.)

According to Stern, should Arthur take the job it would leave Duncan Fletcher -- ironically engaged by the former as a consultant for the successful campaign in Australia -- as an “obvious replacement” for the Proteas, creating “the mouth-watering prospect of the two former colleagues going head to head next December when England tour South Africa”.

Arthur will have had four years in the Proteas hot seat come May; that is a decent tenure. Some might venture that it is also an appropriate ceiling and that renewal, fresh challenges and new faces in strategic terms are healthy things.

It would be a comfort for South Africa if Arthur did, indeed, proceed to the World Cup with them and a little beyond. But even comfort, as they say, can become too … well, comfortable.

I apologise in advance if my “Mickey for England” theory turns out to be a flaky pie in a deluded sky. But I just can’t help feeling there’ll be meat to go with this pastry.


  • niels - 2009-04-01 11:50

    Methinks this column might be linked to April the first. Still, a nice amount of speculation.

  • Ryan - 2009-04-01 12:02

    No surprise that the English press refer to the England coaching role as "..argueably the top coaching job in world cricket." At some stage the English need to realise that they're no longer the world leaders they once were, but are now relegated to being inhabitants of a wet and dreary island off the coast of Europe... Still though, you couldn't blame Arthur if he accepts an offer such as the one indicated. Dealing with poiticians in SA sports must be "argueably the HARDEST job in the world". Maybe afterwards we'll get a cricket playing member of the Pieter De Villiers family as coach...

  • Cape Farmer - 2009-04-01 12:05

    Rob i think Mickey should go.As much as it may look as if RSA's climb to the top of ODI is through his effort,it's not! the players worked hard in fact if he had put correct players earlier we would have topped the charts far earlier than now.Look at how embarassing we lost our test series at home against Oz but simply becoz we won down under it is overlooked,he's embarassed us! When it comes to transformation black means colored to him,our team is just flooded with coloreds only,if he can only find Makhaya in the whole of SA what will happen when Makhaya retires. Look at how long he's hung on to Kallis and Boucher when they were off form? We have so so many players doing well domestically.It's high time we really looked at what this man is doing to SA cricket.You sideline in-form Prince and Harris for Kallis and Boucher,absolute rubbish.

  • Hein - 2009-04-01 12:05

    I certainly hope this is NOT an April fools joke - I never liked the man and I think it is time for him to get going.

  • KYK - 2009-04-01 12:07

    To add on that article, Albie Morkel is likely to abondon SA Cricket. Read

  • TC - 2009-04-01 12:08

    If it is true, Mickey, take the offer and go. Some players in your squad who are approaching sell-by dates declined such opprtunities, even when insulted by the then minister of sport. They will regret it if they are not regretting it already. Patriotism in this South Africa is nonsense.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-01 12:10

    Mick will not be going anywhere, his passion and commitment at present lies with South Africa. If he is meant to coach England it will happen when the nect opportunity comes available.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-01 12:14

    Bullocks article. A coach needs time to build a team. Like Mickey did with the SA team over the last 2 years. He cant just walk into the England camp on the eve of the Ashes and suddenly make them a threat. He is dedicated on taking SA to 2011. Finished and klaar!

  • Zullie - 2009-04-01 12:22

    I really like Rob's way of putting things. But, let's think out the box for a moment? His quote sources are genuine and let's not laugh this off too quickly. Let me throw a "spanner bent like a boomerang" in the works. A very close and reliable source of mine, both here and in India, has heard that Gary Kirsten is ready to make the trip back home, so let's do some juggling here. How 'bout it Rob?

  • ike - 2009-04-01 12:30

    the article was coming along nicely, until the part about Duncan Fletcher being the "obvious replacement." good try, though...

  • jan - 2009-04-01 12:36

    Are sports coaches' contracts worth anything at all these days?

  • carel - 2009-04-01 12:39

    niels... I tend to agree with you

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-01 12:50

    To be honest... I hear what you say... but I think Mickey would rather win the WC with SA then with England, and leaving now... well... what money could u put on that... Maybe in ur report is an element of what you yourself would have done... And maybe he's also after money, which seems the only reason to me... SA is not out of it yet... and as we have seen when Smith gets injured the team collapse... so leaving now... with the team depending on one man would be rather foolish if you ask me... cause then one could argue that its not Mickey but Smith who is doing all the work.... :)

  • GeePMB - 2009-04-01 12:56

    Lets all read the media again AFTER 12 midday today - (UK time)

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-01 12:56

    Interesting even if it is a hoaxs. Firstly is it the "top coaching job" me thinks not. Using top headhunters is also obscure and lastly if this rumour is out there in the public domain nobody has heard it. Nice try though.

  • John R - 2009-04-01 13:03

    It might be, but then again, maybe not. If Arthur really wants the England job, he has to make a tough decision. Thing is, if he waits until 2011, it might be too late! England are most certainly not going to wait until then. Anybody appointed now would have only 2 years under the belt by then, so, unless they were failing, it would not be an opportune time to change! Timing has to be a major consideration here. Arthur also has to consider what he'd do post 2011. Even if SA doesn't win the CWC, he'd have to go then. If he really wants the England job, now is the time to go.

  • Cricket - 2009-04-01 13:06

    Just like the England cricket team, this is also a big JOKE

  • Thami - 2009-04-01 13:35

    I'ts about time, we bring in Johan Botha in place of Paul Harries in the next test matches. Botha will also streghten our batting line and can take wickets and dry runs when neccessary.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-01 13:45

    Arthur is far too sensible and commited to pull out of a winning formula (the current protea squad).

  • shaun - 2009-04-01 13:53

    To cape farmer - please leave the game alone and go ruin your falsely claimed farm some more. You obviously know nothing about cricket, so dont add your 10c worth a junk to the column.

  • Rob Houwing replies: - 2009-04-01 14:00

    Just to confirm to all readers that my piece -- while I did stress it was speculative -- is not linked to any April Fool's sentiment (though I may resort to it if I'm proved wrong!!). My view won't have changed on April 2 ... unless Andy Flower is suddenly named England coach, of course.

  • Cricket - 2009-04-01 14:16

    Jacob Zuma has said that he will not run for the Presidency any more & wants hIs corruption case to go to trial. ANYONE OR YOU BELIEVE THIS AS WELL?

  • sassness - 2009-04-01 14:16

    That would be pulling a Mickey out of Arthur.

  • Mervz - 2009-04-01 14:21

    I agree with 'cape farmer' that Mickey should go, cos he has made some bad selections that has costed us dearly, but everyone seems to blame the players or the team. I think we have have great squad capable of being the greatest, but some of the selection decisions is poor or unjustified. I think its high time that SA needs a new coach who can give us more consistent results.

  • AndreS - 2009-04-01 14:23

    So who will miss him. I take it this way. It took Arthur 2 years to get Graham Smith to stop playing on. In fixing this problem he caused Smith to leave his hands in the way(Broken fingers). Morkel is one of the best SuperSport Series bowlers but cannot do anything at National level. Is he not good enough or is the coach asking him to bowl differently. Kallis and Boucher were the best in the world respectively untill Arthur took over. Are they getting to old or has Arthur got some hand in their demise. So how good is he really. Maybe he will do us a favour by going to England. Pietersen and Flintoff could become ordinary players and pose no threat.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-01 14:47

    It will be apity to see Mickey go. I do feel he does not have free rein in present side - much politics. He can will WC with England in ODI. I dont think we will win Wc as we seem to have same problem as All Blacks. We have a great side and great talent in wings but can the selectors get it right with quota system to win WC.

  • Cricket - 2009-04-01 14:49

    to all the Mickey Haters, you all want him to go, so who do you want to take over as coach? No coach before Mickey Arthur has a better record than him. Hey, Cape Farmer, name 1 ethnic black player besides Makhaya who on merit deserves to be in the SA starting 11? come on haters, dont just give your stupid comments without substantiating

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-01 15:05

    Good April fools JOKE!!

  • Clayton - 2009-04-01 15:44

    Personally i dont think its an april fools joke. This story has been circulating for a while now! Mickey Arthur has taken SA cricket a long way. If you go back a few years we were well behind the 8 ball, lying 5th in both forms of the game. Like any sport requiring a coach, the coach lives and dies by the sword. When the team is losing, its the coach's fault, an rightly so at the moment he should get alot of the credit for the results we produce today. He has built a very good foundation for us! If he wants a fresh challenge, i will wish him the best of luck. If he stays, he will continue to have my backing....

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-01 16:05

    t. Why do you think Mickey is against transformation judging by the look of the currenct squad? It's the SELECTORS who decide on the team, not the coach. If you don't have the facts, then rather keep quiet.

  • Jack - 2009-04-01 16:51

    Thami, you are totally out of order! Firstly this discussion is about Arthur and coaching. Secondly, though, for you to call for Harris to be dropped beggars belief! Harro just took 9 wickets to defeat Australia in the 3rd test. You are either joking or are seriously disadvantaged in cognitive skills?

  • Crimson - 2009-04-02 08:23

    Typical, this guy takes us higher than we've ever been and you crusify him. Have any of you noticed that our stadiums are actually full. Any way if he goes it will be very sad for SA Cricket. I think of Arthur more of a team manger as a coach and I beloeve hie coaching staff along with the more senior players have a big hand in coaching. He also gives the players alot more freedom. While saying all this "Ray Jenning" would be may favroute to replace Arthur but while Smithers pulls a KP we wont have that now will we.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-02 13:09

    We will pay them to take him!!!

  • StormerWP - 2009-04-02 13:22

    Most supporters do not want to face the facts. They were the same people who were on top of the world when SA Proteas returned from Austaralia. The 2 tests we one we had to comfrom behind to gain a victory. World cricket standard is very low at the moment, due to numerous reasons. The fact that we have done well, is that most other sides, including Austarlia are not that good at the moment. Mickey Arthur has been useless from the start, with that other idiot Barnes as his bowling coach. Most people would say Barnes who! We dot not choose ex professionals to sort out our sport, we choose mainly affirmative non-whites, as teh goos one's dont have enough experience yet, or useless 'whites' who are in for the money. Name me one major sport, that has ex top professionals as administartors and coaches. cheers Mickey, at last you going.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-02 15:34

    I dont agree with writer to say, English job is top in the world, while Austrilia rank no:1 in test and SA no:1 in ODI.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-02 15:54

    Anon @ 4:05pm FYI, Mickey is part of the selection panel! Get your facts right. He is as much responsible for the bad selection because he justifies the inclusion of under-performing players!

  • Lunga Biyela - 2009-04-07 16:01

    Take the money and run Mick... take the money and run.

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