Dan Vettori is firmly in the frame to take on Andrew McDonald’s former role as a senior assistant for Australia – albeit with similar freedom of movement to T20 franchises.
The white ball leg of the recent tour of Pakistan was marked by Vettori’s arrival as a mentor on a temporary basis. But sources with knowledge of the situation said it appeared likely that the former New Zealand captain will regularly link up with the national men’s team as McDonald builds his support staff.
Such a move would have Vettori and fellow assistant Michael Di Venuto as the two key lieutenants for McDonald and the Test and limited overs captains Pat Cummins and Aaron Finch over a period in which they will almost certainly oversee some tours.
Having previously worked together with Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, Vettori and McDonald were also due to coach alongside one another with Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred, before the tournament was postponed for a year due to COVID-19.
When it did commence, Vettori coached the Phoenix temporarily as McDonald was unavailable due to Australia commitments, and was subsequently promoted to the senior role last month after Cricket Australia confirmed McDonald’s rise as head coach.
While currently working as an analyst on the IPL for ESPN Cricinfo, Vettori may be available as soon as the Test match component of the Sri Lanka tour in late June, provided he and CA can reach terms.
Among his Test match opponents, Vettori’s 30 wickets at 26. 36 in seven Tests in Sri Lanka make him a viable source of advice to spin bowlers in particular. Given McDonald’s existing rapport and expertise for pace bowlers, Vettori would appear a complementary addition to a support staff that also must be replenished in other roles.
The assistant Jeff Vaughan has returned to Tasmania in a senior coaching role, the physiotherapist David Beakley was abruptly moved aside by CA before the Pakistan trip, and the long-time team manager Gavin Dovey is also yet to be replaced – Brian McFadyen is performing the job on an interim basis. Sridharan Sreeram, a long-time assistant, is also back available after being unable to secure a visa for the Pakistan trip.
McDonald, who coached with South Australia, Leicestershire, Victoria, RCB and Rajasthan Royals before , explained why he did not think a model of dual head coaches, as prescribed by England, was ideal.
People probably don’t like me saying this, but priorities do shift at certain times. You can’t be everything to everyone, McDonald told SEN. Pat Cummins on the back of three Tests in Pakistan, at the end of that he’s really fatigued, and then the white ball team gets compromised because Pat isn’t playing. But he isn’t ready to perform in that environment, so if you had split coaches, which format takes priority?
So I think the ability for one selection panel and one coach to work through that and give direction as to the priorities at that time and managing the overall squad, and then someone coming in, potentially a Michael Di Venuto or another assistant coach coming in to allow the head coach to balance the workload but still stick on the same path.
McDonald flagged he would not be coach for every 50-over game between now and the 2023 World Cup in India.
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