Cricket: Marsh quits as coach of Australia

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The Independent Online
THE AUSTRALIA coach, Geoff Marsh, is to resign at the end of the current tour of Sri Lanka for personal reasons.

The former Test opener was reappointed to the position for a further two years just a month ago, but he will now leave the team after the Sri Lanka tour on 4 October, with the Australian Cricket Board arranging for an interim coach to accompany the team on their tour to Zimbabwe starting on 6 October.

Whoever takes on the Australian position will inherit a tough and seasoned side - in contrast to the sorry state of English cricket, with the new coach, Duncan Fletcher, captain Nasser Hussain and David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, who are struggling with the difficult task of putting together a squad for the winter tour of South Africa that will not suffer a heavy defeat.

Marsh leaves after a period of enormous success for the Australian team, with a series win in the West Indies, an Ashes victory against England and triumph in Pakistan followed by winning the recent World Cup.

One of the leading candidates for the position must be the New Zealand coach, Steve Rixon, who was quick to announce his interest in the job. Rixon has sound credentials after he ended a three-year contract with the Kiwis by completing the 2-1 series win over England at The Oval on Sunday.

Rixon, who played 13 Tests for Australia in the 1970s and 1980s, said the job has "always been something I thought I'd like to do and could do well. It now has to become a consideration". Rixon proved a success as coach of New South Wales before being headhunted by New Zealand Cricket in 1996.

Also high on the list of favourites are the former Australian captain Allan Border and the Queensland coach, John Buchanan.

Marsh said his decision to step down from the Australia post was a difficult one but came down to the priority he placed on his family after 14 years with the national team as a player and coach.

"Life on the international cricket circuit is tremendously rewarding," he said, "and I doubt if there is any better position than coach of the Australian team.

"It's a wonderful job, particularly when you achieve the success that this team has had. But it can be also totally consuming - constant travel and extended time away from your family is very demanding and difficult. The time has now come to pull up stumps and get on with the next part of my life at home with my family."

The Australian captain, Steve Waugh, paid tribute to Marsh, saying: "His contribution to Australia's success has been enormous. The courage, commitment and thought he displayed as a player have carried over to his time with the team as coach and it's shown in the way we've performed under his tutelage."

The ACB chief executive, Malcolm Speed, said he had spoken to Marsh about the decision and had offered to make changes to his role to better accommodate his family commitments, but a compromise could not be found.