The Australian men’s cricket team is ready to take the next formal step in the post-Justin Langer era, with Andrew McDonald to be announced as his official replacement.
That is according to a report from The Daily Telegraphwhich claims that the job was offered to McDonald earlier this week — now it is up to him to decide whether he wants it.
McDonald took over as interim head coach following Langer’s resignation and he is tipped to be announced as the formal replacement in the next 24 to 48 hours.
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Speaking on The Big Sports Breakfast on Tuesday morning, former Australia Test captain Michael Clarke called it a “fantastic” appointment but that came with a warning.
“This is exactly what the players want, there is no doubt about that,” Clarke said.
“If they don’t perform and Pat Cummins doesn’t perform now as captain, he’s going to have extreme pressure on him. He’s had Justin Langer sacked pretty much. He came out and said this is what the players wanted and he is the face of the players as captain and said we want Andrew McDonald.
“Everything is going their way, which is good if they’re winning but if you’re losing accountability comes with that.”
Cummins was clear when Langer’s exit was confirmed that Australia needed a “new style of coaching and skillset”, adding that was the feedback both he and the players provided to Cricket Australia.
Cummins then praised interim coach McDonald late last month, telling reporters: “The boys absolutely love him”.
Clarke at the time said that was a clear sign the playing group was pushing for McDonald to be appointed as head coach.
“If that’s what makes the right coach, then lock Andrew McDonald in for a 20-year contract because ‘Mac’ is a great fella,” Clarke said.
“He was a wonderful player but ‘Macca’ is a jet, he is a great man. He would be an awesome coach but if the team wants a good bloke, you can lock him in for a 20-year deal because you won’t find too many better. It’s a no-brainer in JL resigning, this is exactly what the players wanted.”
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Similarly, as he did on Tuesday morning, Clarke also warned the playing group to be sure of its motivations in pushing for the appointment.
“I think what has happened is he has come in as assistant coach and the players liked his style more than JL’s toughness,” Clarke said.
“So, the players have come together and said: ‘Right, we’d much prefer our mate to be our coaching than someone bossing us around’. Right now, if you’re winning, they’ll get away with it but if they start losing, the first thing they are going to go to is the coach.”
Crucially, McDonald is set to coach the playing group for all three formats, although the report from The Daily Telegraph adds he could be given select white ball turns off.
In that case, assistant Michael Di Venuto would step in to briefly fill the void.
McDonald had revealed last week that he had held talks with Cricket Australia over the head coaching job since the Test series in Pakistan wrapped up.
Speaking to reporters, he said the structure of the role would determine whether he took on the job.
“Do I want the job? It depends on what it looks like, how Cricket Australia see the job unfolding and I will probably get more detail and clarity moving forward,” he said.
Only complicating matters further is the fact McDonald was recently confirmed as the head coach of Birmingham Phoenix in the English Hundred competition.
That role would require McDonald’s to be in England from late July to early September.
Speaking on SEN Radio in February, new Cricket Australia chairman Lachlan Henderson made it clear the role would not be split across different formats.
“We’ve been clear that a single head coach is what we’re going to complement,” he said at the time.
“It is worth pointing out that it’s an incredibly congested schedule over the next 12 to 18 months and the appointed head coach will have a say if they’re not available for every aspect of that schedule.”