England to name coach by weekend

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England hope to name a new coach to work alongside (or more accurately under) Ray Illingworth by the weekend, if the contract arrangements of the desired candidate can be satisfactorily resolved.

"We are currently finding out about contract situations," Dennis Silk, the chairman of the Test and County Board, said yesterday. "We have to check if counties would be prepared to release someone under contract or not. Then, we have to work out terms for what initially will be a six- month contract with us.

"Of course we want to sort things out as quickly as possible, and I'm hopeful at this stage of being able to announce the appointment by the weekend."

The two favoured candidates are David Lloyd, who is on a short-term contract with Lancashire, and John Emburey, who is believed to be Illingworth's preferred option but who might be handicapped by his four-year arrangement with Northamptonshire.

The other vacancies in the England set-up are those of two elected selectors to work with Illingworth, the new coach and the captain when he is appointed. Silk said he expected up to six names to be put forward by the counties.

A ballot would then be organised after Easter for the roles filled last summer by Fred Titmus and David Graveney. Those two could yet be among the nominations again - although Graveney's name would be seen by many as an inflammatory one following his abortive challenge to Illingworth for the England chairman's job. Other possible contenders could include Brian Bolus, and John Edrich from the Illingworth camp and Mark Nicholas and Mike Gatting from the progressive wing of the game.

The TCCB are not the only ones conducting an urgent search of the cricket world. Surrey were left in the lurch when the South African all-rounder Brian McMillan pulled out of a two-year contract and are now using the knowledge of their new manager, David Gilbert, about his native Australia to find a replacement. Gilbert, who coached the Australian development squad in England last summer, had already had talks with the Queensland paceman Andy Bichel and is likely to re-establish contact.

McMillan pulled out after discussions with the South African board.