Emburey out of running for England post

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John Emburey has pulled out of the running for the job of England coach. The 43-year-old former England and Middlesex off-spinner, who was believed to have been the choice of Ray Illingworth, the chairman of selectors, informed the Test and County Board of his decision yesterday.

That leaves the way clear for the other two contenders: the favourite, David Lloyd, who is in Jamaica on Lancashire's pre-season tour; and Phil Neale, Warwickshire's director of coaching.

Neale, 41, who captained Worcestershire to successive County Championship wins in 1988 and 1989, said yesterday from Cape Town, where he is helping Warwickshire prepare for their pre-season tour, that he wants the job. "I would love to be involved in the England set-up in some way," he said.

The TCCB chairman, Dennis Silk, had announced that a decision would be made by this evening, but that is not guaranteed. With two of the leading candidates out of the country it may not be possible, although after the last 10 days or so no one should be surprised at anything after this latest episode in the soap opera of English cricket. The weekly serial will no doubt throw up another twist next week.

But unlike David Graveney's exit from the election for chairman of selectors, Emburey was not put under any pressure by anyone else. He has just taken up a four-year post as coach to Northamptonshire, believed to be worth a total of pounds 200,000. The TCCB, who approached Emburey on Tuesday to establish whether he was willing to be considered for the post, have made it clear that the England coach's job will be just for the summer. Even if it paid pounds 30,000 for those six months, it would not make financial sense for Emburey to accept it on those terms when there is so much more security with Northamptonshire, who said that they would not have stood in Emburey's way had he been offered the job.

Lloyd, at 49 is the oldest of the candidates and he is believed to be on a short-term contract with Lancashire, so the brevity of the England deal would probably not worry him unduly, particularly since it is likely that Lancashire would leave his job open for him if Lloyd failed to produce the goods. A major factor in his favour is that if Lloyd were offered the job it might well influence Michael Atherton to stay on as England captain, and Lord's want that very much particularly since there is no obvious successor.

Illingworth did not want to comment on Emburey's decision, which was announced through his new county. In the statement Emburey, who last night flew to South Africa for a 12-day pre-season tour with Northamptonshire, said: "While being very honoured and flattered at being considered by the TCCB's executive committee I have decided, after due and careful thought, that I do not wish to be put forward as a candidate.

"I feel at this stage of my career that I would benefit from gaining more experience in a cricket management and coaching role. Having gained that necessary experience I would be better qualified to serve England. It is my fervent desire and ambition to work with the international team at some time in the future and I fully appreciate the experience of managing the England A team on their recent tour of Pakistan."

Unlike Emburey, who played 64 times for England, Neale has no Test experience, but he said: "I took England A to South Africa and India and it didn't stop me doing a good job. I didn't think I was lacking anything when it came to knowledge of cricket."

Meanwhile David Acfield announced the make-up of his six-man working party which has been set up to look into the running of the national team. The Essex chairman has called on two former England captains, David Gower and Mike Gatting, who will be joined by the Lancashire chairman, Bob Bennett, Micky Stewart, who was England's first manager from 1986 to 1992, and Tim Lamb, the TCCB's assistant secretary.