Cricket: Woolmer tops SA shortlist: Edgbaston coach in demand

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The Independent Online
BOB WOOLMER, the Warwickshire coach, has emerged as the favourite to succeed Mike Procter as South Africa's national coach.

The former England batsman is one of three candidates on a shortlist drawn up by the United Cricket Board of South Africa's executive committee. A final decision will be announced on Saturday after interviews throughout the week.

Four names were originally proposed by the committee, which consists of UCB president Krish Mackerduj, vice-president Ray White, selection convenor Peter Pollock and managing director Ali Bacher, but the South African A team coach, Stephen Jones, asked not to be considered.

Woolmer's competition will come from the former South African all-rounder Eddie Barlow and the former Zimbabwean captain and current Western Province coach, Duncan Fletcher. With Bacher stressing the committee's desire for a 'highly qualified technical coach' it seems that Barlow, currently without a cricketing job, will find his brand of motivational coaching out of favour.

Of the two foreign candidates, both known for their technical expertise, Woolmer is the more experienced at senior provincial level, having guided Boland for five seasons. Fletcher has coached Western Province for one season.

Woolmer's outstanding success at Warwickshire, who won an unprecedented three out of four domestic competitions this season, has not gone unnoticed in South Africa and Bacher conceded that the new coach 'could well come from outside South Africa'.

Woolmer yesterday: 'It would be a tough wrench to leave Warwickshire after we've achieved so much but I've stated before that my ambition is to coach at the highest level. I would love to do both . . . I've started something at Warwickshire that I would like to continue but the South Africa job is the ultimate goal.'

The Warwickshire chief executive, Dennis Amiss, said the county would be keen for Woolmer to at least see out the remaining year of his contract even if he was offered the South African post, but would not 'stand in Bob's way if he was the man the UCB wanted'.

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