Cricket: World cup - Woolmer denies rift with South Africans

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The Independent Online
BOB WOOLMER, the South African coach, yesterday spoke for the first time during this World Cup about his future and denied that his chances of becoming the next England coach have been harmed by a rift with his players, who are preparing for the Super Six stage of the tournament beginning on Friday.

Woolmer confirmed his interest in the post two months ago, shortly after announcing he would step down as South Africa coach after the World Cup. But reports yesterday suggested that his name was no longer top of the shortlist to be discussed at next week's England Management Advisory Committee meeting.

Speaking at the inaugural World Cricket Coaches conference in Birmingham yesterday, Woolmer responded to the allegations of ill feeling in the South African camp. "It's a horrible thing to say," he said, "and I can only say that the players I know have expressed regret at my leaving. I get on well with the whole team. I have read that and it's pretty disappointing. Obviously my time is nearly up but I've had a good time and I think most of the guys have enjoyed my input."

As far as Woolmer is concerned nothing has changed on the England front. "I've said I'm interested, I've said I wanted a rest and I would only be available next year. If that rules me out then so be it. People say I'm being greedy but, in a job of that magnitude, you need to find out what they're offering. If I price myself out of the market that's fine but at least we have to sit down and talk.

"No one goes into a job without asking what the salary will be. I don't think it's unfair to do that and, while it's a prime job in English cricket, it's a tough job. I need to take a break and decide whether I need to do anything or want to do anything. It's not a case of money grabbing. I just need time.

"I've only been approached to find out if I'm interested and that's it. No one has come to me and said `will you come to an interview' or just `we'd like you'. All I've done is express an interest and that's really where it stands."

Another attractive alternative for Woolmer following his winter break could be a return to Warwickshire, the side he coached with such success before being appointed by South Africa. "They've come and asked me and I've said I'll let them know after the World Cup. Again, I have to decide if I want to come back to county cricket, back to England, and what other options there are."

Woolmer said of England's performance in the current tournament: "I think they were very unlucky. Form would suggest that we would have beaten Zimbabwe." However, he added: "I would think batting second at Edgbaston [as England chose to do against India] is always quite a dicey prospect."