David Lloyd was having a leisurely breakfast with the England captain, Michael Atherton, in a Jamaican hotel when the Test and County Board announced that he had been appointed to coach the national team this summer.
According to Lloyd, who is supervising Lancashire's pre-season Caribbean tour, the captain welcomed the news: "We are both thrilled," he said. Lloyd, who joins Atherton on the five-man England selection committee chaired by Ray Illingworth, immediately looked ahead to the forthcoming summer during which first India, then Pakistan come over for three-Test series.
Lancashire will be away for a fortnight but Lloyd wants to return sooner. "I'm looking forward to meeting the England players," he said. "There is an England Under-19 game on 15 April and I would like to be back for that, I will have to work out if it will be possible to get there. But I will definitely be back in time for the England A match against The Rest at Chelmsford, on 20 April."
English cricket, which has fumbled and stumbled its way to this decision, may have appointed someone whose nickname, Bumble, is misleading. His incisiveness and innovatory approach could be a shot in the arm. Lancashire will miss him, but they are keen not to lose him. Lloyd, who has also been coaching the successful England Under-19 side for the last year or so, has been released from his rolling Old Trafford contract on "a full- time secondment for the period of the home 1996 international season," according to the TCCB statement. The implication is that his job will be kept open for him at Old Trafford until the long-term future is decided when David Acfield's working party reports in August on the running of the national game.
Before he dashed off to a practice match at a club ground in Jamaica, Lloyd outlined his initial aims. "We've got some work to do," he said. "But we have to be very optimistic and look forward to these two Test series. I'm looking to instil enthusiasm and to rebuild confidence and get some enjoyment back. This is their full-time job, it's what they have chosen to do and it's important to show that enjoyment.
"I'm absolutely certain that we have the talent in England to do well. The lads have had a demanding time recently, but I'm looking to getting them going again." It is still unclear how much autonomy Lloyd will be given, or whether he will have to toe any line drawn by Illingworth. The erstwhile supremo said yesterday: "I wish David all the luck in the world and look forward to seeing him on his return from the West Indies."
Lloyd's appointment was almost a foregone conclusion once John Emburey had dropped out of contention and of all the possible candidates he was the best qualified. He has done it all, from playing nine times for England while amassing almost 20,000 first-class runs. He even stood for a season as a first-class umpire in 1987.
Lloyd profile, page 25