Dennis Lillee, Richard Hadlee, Allan Donald, and Darren Gough were each linked with the job but yesterday the England and Wales Cricket Board appointed Kevin Shine as its new fast bowling coach.
Realistically, and rightly, it was always going to be the case. Lillee, Hadlee, Donald and Gough performed great feats on the international stage but the bulk of the new coach's duties are away from the Test arena, and it was the applicants' ability to deal with this less glamorous side of the job which influenced the ECB's final decision.
Over the coming months Shine will work with Andrew Flintoff, Stephen Harmison & Co, but his main task is to ensure that the next group of England fast bowlers are of the same quality as those which currently represent the national side.
During a 10-year playing career, which included spells with Hampshire, Middlesex and Somerset, Shine's bowling - 249 wickets at an average of 36 - was inconsistent. When he got it right he was fast but there were too many days when he failed to deliver. However, Troy Cooley - 54 wickets at 61 each - the man Shine will replace, proved that you do not have to be a superstar on the field to become a high quality coach, and it is in this area that Shine has impressed.
Shine retired from first-class cricket in 2000 and joined Somerset's coaching staff. In 2001, as the first XI coach, he helped guide the club to victory in the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy and to second place in the County Championship. Somerset's fortunes then fell away and in 2004 Mark Garaway, England's recently appointed video analyst, replaced Shine, who was appointed as the club's Academy director.
Fast bowling has always been Shine's passion and he loves talking about the art. He is one of the most highly qualified coaches in the country and, along with his technical knowledge, will bring a great deal of enthusiasm to the job. "I'm incredibly proud. It's a massive honour," he said. "It's a huge challenge and I can't wait to get going. No transition is seamless and it shouldn't be. I agree with Troy's methods and have learned a lot during the time I have spent with him but I'm sure I'll bring something different to the party."
Shine will take up his position on 13 March and is expected to join Cooley and the England squad on their tour of India. There he will work with Garaway, whose takeover at Somerset in 2004 was rumoured to be contentious, and it will be interesting to see how the relationship develops.
Ian Blackwell, the Somerset captain, completed a news-hogging day for the West Country side when he spoke about his chances of playing for England in the first Test on 1 March. Blackwell was only selected for the tour of India when Ashley Giles failed to prove he had recovered from a hip operation, but his prowess with the bat makes him the favourite to replace England's premier spinner in the Test side.
"This is an opportunity to show England that Ashley is not the only left-arm spinner," said Blackwell. "I'd like to think that I could do a job with the ball and possibly score a lot of runs."Reuse content