Former skipper 'wanted Warne as coach'

Kevin Pietersen's choice to replace Peter Moores as England coach was, according to reports in the Australian media last night, Shane Warne, a friend and one-time Hampshire team-mate of the former England captain.

English cricket's latest pratfall has caused a mixture of glee and bemusement Down Under six months ahead of this summer's Ashes series, but The Age in Melbourne has taken it a step further by claiming that Pietersen had wanted to install Australia's greatest ever bowler as England coach.

The newspaper says that Pietersen had contacted Warne in recent weeks and wanted him to coach England assisted by Darren Berry, once captain of Victoria, and former England one-day player Jeremy Snape. The trio have limited coaching experience but enjoyed success together in steering Rajasthan to last year's maiden Indian Premier League crown. Snape has also been working with South Africa. Neither Berry nor Warne would comment on the claims, but The Age states happily that Warne "notably did not deny the suggestion."

Whatever truth there might be in the story, it is unlikely to have come to fruition as Warne has numerous business interests in Australia as well as family commitments.

Nevertheless it can only have added to Australia's enjoyment at the mess their old enemy find themselves in at the start of an Ashes year.

Warne was prepared to comment on Pietersen's fall and future. He said he was surprised but felt the loss of the captaincy would spur him on to greater deeds. He said: "I'm disappointed he's no longer captain of England. The thing with him he was only going to improve as he went on, like every captain does. The more you do it, the better you usually get. But as a player, he came back quickly. Considering it is still seven months away until the Ashes start, this situation won't affect the series in any way, shape or form. He'll be there and he'll be very dangerous."

The Canberra Times took great comfort from the upheaval following Australia's 2-1 series defeat to South Africa. It wrote: "If Australian cricket fans thought Ricky Ponting and his men had pre-Ashes problems, they needed only to watch England's leadership saga descend into farce to feel things may be looking up. Australians could be forgiven for laughing out loud as their traditional foes shot themselves in the foot." The Sydney Morning Herald put it simply: "Chaos reigns, Poms in a mess"