South African Mickey Arthur was hired as the first non-native head coach of Australia’s cricket team, completing a revamp of the national squad following a performance review.
Arthur, who coached South Africa in 2005 to 2010, will leave his job with the Western Australia state team to take the newly created national role, which was expanded based on the recommendations of the review panel. His contract runs through the 2015 World Cup, Cricket Australia said.
Arthur, 43, was picked from six candidates interviewed by the Melbourne-based governing body, said Pat Howard, who was appointed last month as Australia’s first general manager of team performance. Arthur’s first series in charge will be a two- Test contest against New Zealand starting Dec. 1.
“Mickey was the standout,” Howard said. “He impressed on a number of levels, including his proven ability to turn teams around and his deep knowledge of the Australian cricket scene.”
Australia has slipped from first to fifth in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings and has won one of its past five series, a run that included a 3-1 Ashes loss to England at home that sparked the review.
Following the recommendations of the review panel, which was chaired by former BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) Chairman Don Argus, Cricket Australia hired Howard to oversee team performance and appointed John Inverarity as its first full-time chairman of selectors, with Rod Marsh and Andy Bichel assisting part time.
The Argus review, which delivered its findings in August, also recommended that the head coach’s role be redefined to include a place on the selection panel as well as taking responsibility for day-to-day performance and helping to develop the team’s “vision and strategy.”
“It is the last of the major new positions,” Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said. “The other recruits that we’ve picked up over the last few weeks have been about finding the best people to do the job that we need to do for Australian cricket right now.”
Arthur, whose great grandfather was Australian, said being from overseas wouldn’t hinder his ability to perform the role at the highest level. Australia’s national rugby and soccer teams have New Zealand and German coaches, respectively, while a South African is the national tennis director.
“I don’t think it will matter,” Arthur said at a televised news conference. “Ultimately, I guess you want a guy that is perceived to be the best for the job, irrespective of the nationality.”
Arthur, who guided South Africa to an unbeaten run in 10 Test series in December 2006 to February 2009, said he would bring an “unblinkered view” to the job, having previously plotted against Australia when coaching the Proteas and having spent time in the Australian system with Western Australia.
Troy Cooley, the head coach at Cricket Australia’s Centre of Excellence, took over as interim coach for the tour of South Africa, which concluded yesterday as Australia successfully chased down a record target of 310 in Johannesburg to win the second Test and tie the series at 1-1.
“Australian cricket is in a very exciting phase,” Arthur said. “There’s a lot of really good young players coupled with a lot of very, very good legends in senior players.”
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