DateLine: 4th December 2006
Former Australian Test batsman Darren Lehmann wants the chance to coach England, reports said on Sunday. Amid uncertainty over the future of incumbent Duncan Fletcher, Lehmann said he would relish the prospect of becoming the first Australian in 129 years to take charge of the old enemy. Three Aussies have played a role in helping in the recent rise of the English cricket. Former wicketkeeper Rod Marsh oversaw the England Cricket Academy between 2001-2005, while Troy Cooley and the great Dennis Lillee have acted as bowling advisers. Sydney's Sunday Telegraph newspaper said Lehmann has support from influential England figures to succeed the man who helped break the nation's 18-year Ashes drought. Lehmann, who has one of the shrewdest minds in Australian cricket, said he would welcome any approach from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). "It's something I'd love to do. If the opportunity came up to coach England, I'd certainly want to do it," Lehmann told the newspaper. "I know the England players quite well. I've got a lot of things on and I'm still playing cricket, which makes it difficult to coach anyone," said Lehmann, currently the president of the Australian Cricketers' Association. "But I've always had coaching ambitions. I'd like to think I know the game well enough and I can work with players well enough. If you can do that, you can do some coaching at various levels. I can't imagine a better stage than to do it at an international level." While Fletcher has not hinted at stepping aside, some say the 58-year-old has run his course as England coach. Fletcher is on a rolling one-year contract with the ECB, and rumours suggest he will quit after the World Cup in March. Lehmann, 36, has a strong affinity with English cricket after seven fruitful seasons at Yorkshire and is regarded as one of the game's cleverest tacticians. Speaking at the traditional Test dinner at Adelaide Oval on Thursday, former England Test paceman Darren Gough said Lehmann would be the ideal man to succeed Fletcher. "It's a very strong rumour in England that Darren could be the next coach and he would be a very popular choice with the England players," Gough said. "He teaches enjoyment to the players, his knowledge is second-to-none, especially of the England players after playing in the country for so long. He has some amazing theories on how the game should be played."