Buchanan bolsters England Ashes bid

Summer gets worse for tourists as former Australia coach joins England set-up

Crashing out of the World Twenty20 on Monday night will have done little for the Australian cricket team's mood and Ricky Ponting's side's general demeanour will possibly have darkened yesterday after it turned out that their former coach has been hired by the opposition this summer.

OK, John Buchanan, who masterminded many an Ashes victory and a couple of World Cup wins for the Australians to boot, has been hired by the England and Wales Cricket Board to help out the younger age groups for a month, according to the governing body, but it would be inconceivable were he not to be asked to spill a couple of his deepest darkest secrets relating to his time at the Aussie helm.

"Both myself and the ECB have indicated that in terms of their elite programme I could fulfil a role," Buchanan, who was in charge of Australia when they won the Ashes series 5-0 two years ago, said yesterday. "I will fly over on 28 June, have a good look at the elite programme, and sit down with them to see what potentially lies ahead. This trip will be largely about looking at the coaching programmes and working with the Under-19s and the [England] Lions team."

Buchanan's visit will coincide with the Lions' match against Australia at Worcester from 1-4 July, four days before the first Ashes Test begins in Cardiff.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get over there and look at the general set-up," Buchanan, who left Cricket Australia last year and is currently director of cricket operations for IPL franchise the Kolkata Knight Riders, added. "I think it's fair to say that there has been a fair amount of interest from both parties, and I suppose the situation will become clearer in early July."

Ponting and his men would love to be too busy to even give a hoot about who England have and have not hired but following their surprise early elimination from the World Twenty20 they have nothing to do but kick their heels until the Ashes begin at the start of next month. It is not the first time an Australian has been hired by the enemy; the former Aussie wicketkeeper Rod Marsh set up the ECB's academy for young players, which was based on the model from Down Under, and Troy Cooley was England's bowling coach when they won the Ashes, with the help of abundant reverse swing, in 2005. Unfortunately for England, Cooley now oversees Australia's attack.

Given how close the last Ashes series in this country was, should Buchanan only drop the merest hint about the Australian secrets, it could make all the difference.

Ashes watch

27 days to go:

The Australians will not schedule any extra warm-up games despite their elimination from the Twenty20 World Cup. "I feel we have enough cricket time," said coach Tim Nielsen.

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