Tucker odds-on to be named governor after rivals drop out

The Bank of England's deputy governor, Paul Tucker, was installed as odds-on favourite for its top job at the Bank of England yesterday as the applications deadline for Britain's most powerful unelected role passed.

But the appointment process also drew criticism from the City as two high-profile candidates dropped out of the running. The former civil service head and Treasury economist Lord O'Donnell declined to apply, as did Jim O'Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Reports that Australian central bank chief Glenn Stevens – the self-styled "most boring man in Sydney" – had been approached were also denied, leaving the Treasury struggling to garner heavyweight candidates.

Mr Tucker, right, a Bank veteran, is now toe-to-toe with the Financial Services Authority chairman, Lord Turner, to take on the leadership of an enlarged Bank of England, which assumes responsibility for financial regulation next year. The Chancellor, George Osborne, announced in April that the process of appointing a successor to Sir Mervyn King would be "open and transparent".

Candidates were asked to submit a CV and covering letter as well as answer a questionnaire on past political activity and potential conflicts of interest. Mr O'Neill hinted at disquiet over the recruitment process as he said he "hadn't applied for a job since 1983". BGC Partners David Buik added: "I don't like this business of applying. If the Government wants to see specific people, it should seek them out."