Cricket: Lloyd to quit after World Cup

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The Independent Online
DAVID LLOYD, England's colourful and controversial coach is to step down after the World Cup. The announcement, made yesterday, surprised many and the timing and haste of the decision added further fuel to speculation that Lloyd, seeking assurances over his future, has been offered alternative jobs in radio and television.

It was, according to the England and Wales Cricket Board, an amicable parting following a meeting at Lord's between Lloyd, Lord MacLaurin and the ECB's international teams director, Simon Pack.

"We owe David a huge debt for the job he has done since taking over in 1996," MacLaurin said. "During his time in the job, David has introduced many innovations that mean we are now world leaders in several aspects of our approach to the game at international level. It would be a fitting send-off for him if we could lift the World Cup for the first time this summer."

Lloyd, 52, who helped England achieve their first five Test series victory for 12 years last summer, sounded equally grateful, though he is to hold a press conference of his own at Old Trafford tomorrow.

"I've had a tremendous time with the England side," Lloyd said. "I'm looking forward to completing my tenure with a successful and enjoyable World Cup campaign. It was important for me to have a clear picture of what my future holds. Now that the matter is settled this means the team can focus exclusively on the World Cup."

Lloyd, whose contract was to run until 31 August, ends a three-year association with the England team. While renaissance would be too strong a word, his time has brought change and innovation. Tapes of Churchill's speeches as well as bonding weekends in country retreats have all been explored in the cause of motivation. There have been successes on the field, too, and home Test series wins against India, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as several one-day triumphs, must be added to an interesting CV.

Enormously respected by the players, and with an unflagging enthusiasm and dedication that cannot be faulted, it was his fiery passion, that sometimes landed the man known as "Bumble" in trouble with his employers. Occasionally, this boiled over to become a liability, as it did in Bulawayo in 1995-96.

"We flippin murdered 'em," Lloyd told an assembled press corps there, having given some startled Zimbabwe officials a piece of his mind after the home side's bowlers had forced a draw by deliberately bowling wide of leg stump.

Last August there was his outburst over the legality of Muttiah Muralitharan's action, which although veiled, was a major embarrassment to the ECB. The subsequent dressing-down he received from his employers, who made it clear that this was his final warning, left him feeling angry and betrayed.

The choice of a successor is not particularly straightforward despite the resignation on Monday of South Africa's coach, Bob Woolmer, which according to the ECB's chief executive, Tim Lamb, was purely coincidental.

Due to his sterling work with South Africa, Woolmer, who played for both Kent and England, would be many people's choice. However, when asked privately last summer whether or not he would take the job if offered, his answer was in the negative. In any case, he is thought to be tiring of the nomadic life associated with being a cricket coach.

Closer to home, the front-runners for the job would be Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting, with John Emburey and James Whittaker, the current captain of Leicestershire, as outsiders. Gooch, whose managerial role in Australia was almost entirely conducted wearing a tracksuit, would relish the chance, though critics will say that neither he nor Gatting is likely to bring much that is fresh to the table from their days as captain.

In keeping with speculation over the England football manager's job, it may well be prudent to seek a coach from overseas. One of the problems that has befallen England sides in recent years is the negative mindset produced from a background in county cricket. Despite his forward thinking on some matters, Lloyd was tainted by this as much as anyone. Now that the uncertainty over his future has been removed, the World Cup, his swan- song, may see his true potential bloom.

England's captain, Alec Stewart, called on the players to give Lloyd a successful send-off by winning the World Cup for the first time this summer.

"It's disappointing news but it's been a real pleasure to work with Bumble, a coach who is thorough, loyal to his players and completely professional," Stewart said. "He has brought a real sense of passion to the job of England coach and it would be great to reward him with the World Cup as a final vote of thanks from the players for all he has done for us."

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