Split views: McDonald on why one coach is better than two
New Aussie head coach reveals there was "no risk" of him taking England job as he details Australia's 'final frontier'
3 May 2022, 02:50 PM AEST
Andrew McDonald's preference for national teams to have an overarching head coach of all formats cost England any chance they had of poaching the Australian.
McDonald will take charge of the Australian men's team for the first time as the permanent appointee for next month's tour of Sri Lanka following a successful Test series win in Pakistan as the interim leader.
England, meanwhile, are still in the process of finding a replacement for Chris Silverwood having only recently appointed the person in charge of that process, new managing director Rob Key, who wants separate white- and red-ball coaches.
McDonald, whose first coaching job was in the United Kingdom with county team Leicestershire in 2015, believes there is inherent danger of clashing priorities with multiple coaches.
Asked on SEN Radio if he could have taken a job with England, McDonald said: "I don't think there was a risk (of that happening).
"The way they're going to structure up is clear, I think they're going to go for a split coaching role. My views on that differ slightly, which has unfolded now with the way that this (Australia) job's been structured up.
"My belief is to have that one coach and share the workload within that, whereas I think England are going down that path of split roles. We'll wait and see but I think that's the way Rob Key has framed it."
It will be the second time England have opted for separate coaches following an unsuccessful two-year period between 2012 and 2014 when Andy Flower (Tests) and Ashley Giles (ODIs and T20Is) split responsibilities.
That experiment culminated in the 2013-14 Ashes whitewash to Australia and a group-stage exit at the 2014 T20 World Cup (and England losing to the Netherlands) amid discontent at how players were prioritised for different formats.
For Australia, that challenge remains as great as ever.
Test captain Pat Cummins along with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, David Warner and Steve Smith are all key figures across multiple formats, while white-ball regulars like Glenn Maxwell, Mitch Marsh, Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar have had long-form opportunities limited by international commitments.
McDonald cited Cummins, who missed the four white-ball matches at the tail-end of the recent Pakistan tour and has also been rested for the three T20Is that begin the Sri Lanka trip, as an example of having to pick and choose in a crammed schedule.
"People probably don't like me saying this but the priorities do shift at certain times. You can't be everything to everyone," said McDonald.
"For example, Pat Cummins, on the back of three Test matches in Pakistan, at the end of that he's severely fatigued and then the white-ball team gets compromised because Pat Cummins isn't playing there.
"But he's not ready to perform in that environment. If you had split coaches, which format takes the priority?
"So I think the ability for one selection panel, one coach to work through that and give direction as to what the priorities are at that time and managing the overall squad … that continuity of messaging, for me, is important."
McDonald however added "there's no chance" he would be able to coach every 50-over match leading into next year's ODI World Cup, and will instead delegate to his assistants for the occasional series.
Australia are searching for replacements for Jeff Vaughan, who recently left his role with the national side to take the reins with Tasmania, as well as McDonald himself given the Victorian had previously served as Justin Langer's senior assistant.
Like Langer, who labelled a series win in India as being the Test team's "Mount Everest", McDonald sees a triumph over cricket's modern powerhouse as the "final frontier" ahead of Australia’s proposed Test tour of India early next year.
A grinding 1-0 series win on batter-friendly surfaces in Pakistan was a positive step for a side that hadn't previously toured abroad in nearly two-and-a-half years, but the two-Test campaign in Galle is likely to produce more spin-friendly conditions, the kind of Australia have typically struggled in.
"There's a lot of cricket to go before then (the India tour), but we have packaged up Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India in a (short space of time) and the final frontier clearly is India," McDonald said.
"Sri Lanka is two Test matches, India is four Test matches – that's a greater challenge for longer periods of time in the subcontinent.
"While Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India are all classified as the subcontinent, they are different in the way that they play. Sri Lanka is probably going to spin more and then India, depending on what they choose to prepare, is always interesting.
"That is a great challenge … we feel as though that we've got a style of play, through Pakistan, through Sri Lanka and into India that can hold up."
Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka, 2022
T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner, Matthew Wade
June 7: First T20, Colombo
June 8: Second T20, Colombo
June 11: Third T20, Kandy
ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
June 14: First ODI, Kandy
June 16: Second ODI, Kandy
June 19: Third ODI, Colombo
June 21: Fourth ODI, Colombo
June 24: Fifth ODI, Colombo
Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
June 29 - July 3: First Test, Galle
July 8-12: Second Test, Galle
Australia A fixtures
Squad: Sean Abbott, Scott Boland, Pete Handscomb, Aaron Hardie, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Henry Hunt, Josh Inglis, Matthew Kuhnemann, Nic Maddinson, Todd Murphy, Josh Philippe, Matt Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, Tanveer Sangha, Mark Steketee
June 8: First one-day game, Colombo
June 10: Second one-day game, Colombo
June 14-17: first-class tour match, Hambantota
June 21-24: first-class tour match, Hambantota