From the bottom to the top: McDonald's coaching journey
Having started his coaching career at county strugglers Leicestershire while still playing himself back in Australia, Andrew McDonald has now landed one of the biggest jobs in world cricket
14 April 2022, 08:30 AM AEST
Andrew McDonald took his first steps towards becoming Australia's eighth men's cricket head coach before his own days as a player had ended.
An allrounder from Wodonga who played four Tests for Australia in 2009, McDonald's name may not carry the same status as predecessors like Justin Langer and Darren Lehmann.
But Cricket Australia have every right to believe he is what they need.
And the man himself has long believed his own career path has only helped make him a better mentor.
Steered towards coaching while battling injuries, McDonald took his first major coaching course just months before his own Test debut in early 2009.
Seven years later, while still playing for South Australia and the Sydney Thunder, allrounder's coaching career began quite literally at the bottom of the pile in 2014.
Handed the reins to a battling Leicestershire side who had gone winless for two years in second-division county cricket in England, club officials at the time banked on his "Australian grit" and "strong mental attitude".
At the time, he preached a hands-off style, helping the club climb from the bottom of the ladder and to the brink of promotion.
He also believed his own experiences as a player had helped him relate to others, harping back to injury struggles and his own mental battles to stay level.
Within two years, he was offered the Victoria coaching job.
And by season's end, he had coached the Vics to the 2016-17 Sheffield Shield before winning the title again along with the One-Day Cup and the Big Bash League with the Melbourne Renegades in 2018-19, his last full season in charge.
McDonald's path hasn't always been clear cut.
He clashed with national selectors in late 2018 over Aaron Finch's role as an opener in the Test team, and later expressed fears his career had been hurt by Australia batting him there.
But beyond everything, he has been fiercely loyal to his players and well liked in return, a factor that has been clear since he became an assistant to Langer in 2019.
By 2020, he was filling in on white-ball tours as an interim coach, before he led Australia's first Test series win in Asia in 11 years against Pakistan last month.
Players there noted his ability to adapt to individuals, taking a hands-on approach with those who wanted it while sitting back on others.
Ultimately, he became the best and most obvious choice for the full-time job when Cricket Australia powerbrokers weighed up their options.
"I thought long and hard about it," McDonald said on Wednesday.
"There are so many things to factor in. You factor in family, is the job the right time for you, the right place for you?
"And here we are today."