SA’s Mickey Arthur named new Australian coach

Mickey Arthur will be the first foreign head coach of Australia’s national cricket team when he takes over ahead of the two Test series against New Zealand starting December 1.

Cricket Australia announced the appointment of Arthur, a former South Africa head coach, at a news conference on Tuesday. His contract runs through until after the 2015 World Cup which Australia and New Zealand are hosting.

Arthur replaces Tim Nielsen, who opted not to apply for the position after an extensive independent review earlier this year in the wake of Australia’s home Ashes series loss to England recommended a major overhaul of the national cricket administration.

“I am honoured and privileged to have another chance to coach an international team, particularly a team of the ilk of Australia,” Arthur said. “I think I bring a fresh, unblinkered eye to the role after plotting against Australia when coaching South Africa and having now worked within the Australian system with the Warriors.

“Australia has an abundance of cricket talent and I am confident the talent is there to ensure Australia is successful.”

‘Elevated role’
Troy Cooley served as interim coach for the just completed tour of South Africa where Australia rallied to win the second test late Monday to square the two-match series. The Australian players are returning to Australia this week to prepare for the two Test series against New Zealand next month and a four Test series against India starting December 26.

“The position is a new and elevated role responsible for day-to-day coaching of the Australia team but also encompasses responsibility for the overall Australian cricket coaching strategy,” CA chief executive James Sutherland said. “The function was created as one of the key recommendations of the recent Australian Team Performance Review.”

Earlier this month, Cricket Australia appointed former rugby union international Pat Howard to the newly created role of general manager of team performance.

Howard has overseen the recruitment of Arthur, as well as John Inverarity as a full-time selector to chair a selection panel that includes test great Rod Marsh and retired fast bowler Andy Bichel.

Arthur was chosen ahead of other contenders such as former Australian test players Steve Rixon and Tom Moody — who both have experience as coaches of national teams — and Justin Langer.

Shaping perspective
The 43-year-old Arthur played 110 first-class matches in South Africa before moving into coaching and had vast experience in the domestic competition before taking over as Proteas head coach in 2005.

His first two Test series were losses at home and away to Australia, helping shape his perspective on international cricket.

He left the South Africa job in 2010 and has been coaching Western Australia in Australia’s domestic competition since last season.

Arthur, who has a tenuous family link to Australia via his Australian great grandfather, said he and his family were planning to become permanent residents of Australia.

In his new role, Arthur will be responsible for planning, preparing coaching staff and taking joint responsibility with captain Michael Clark for the day-to-day team performances. He will also be part of the national selection panel and will work with the six state coaches and the head coach of the Cricket Australia Centre of Excellence in Brisbane on coaching and player development.

‘Outstanding candidate’
Howard described Arthur as an “outstanding candidate” selected after an exhaustive search in Australia and abroad.

“Mickey impressed on a number of levels, including his proven ability to turn teams around and his deep knowledge of the Australian cricket scene and its current and prospective future international players across three formats,” Howard said.

The review into cricket in Australia, led by a group of ex-Test captains, came in the wake of series of losses that rocked the national setup and exposed a lack of player development. Australia dominated international cricket for a decade from the late 1990s and was regularly number one in the test and limited-overs rankings — twice winning a world record 16 consecutive test matches under coaches Geoff Marsh and John Buchanan.

But after a raft of retirements of some of the biggest stars of the game, Australia’s test ranking plunged to number five. It has only recovered to number four after improving performances in the series in Sri Lanka and SA. The Australians remain atop the ODI rankings despite losing in the World Cup quarterfinals to eventual champion India in March, ending its run of three consecutive World Cups. — Sapa-AP

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