South Africa v Australia ODIs
Australia appoint Saker as assistant coach
Current Victoria and Melbourne Renegades head coach David Saker to take over role vacated by Craig McDermott earlier this year
14 July 2016, 03:11 PM AEST
David Saker has been appointed as Cricket Australia's next full-time assistant coach, and earmarked to stand-in as the Australian team's head coach at some point in the next 18 months.
Saker had previously held the role of fast-bowling coach role with the England cricket team between 2010 and 2015, before taking over as head coach of the Victorian Bushrangers and Melbourne Renegades last season.
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South Africa great Allan Donald is currently filling the role of fast bowling coach with the Australian team on the Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka. Former Australia seamer Craig McDermott vacated that role after Australia's unsuccessful World T20 campaign, having helped guide the national team to the top of the Test and one-day rankings.
Saker will take over for the Qantas Tour of South Africa in late September. Bupa Support Team head coach Darren Lehmann said Saker's previous experience would be invaluable.
"David’s experience working around the world with international teams will be invaluable, especially as we work toward the upcoming Indian Test series and the Ashes," said Lehmann.
"His technical expertise in all facets of the game is a real bonus and very important when working with the young group we have.
"We spoke with a lot of people about this role and really took our time deciding what direction we wanted to go. David’s appointment gives us good clarity in our senior coaching group."
CA's Executive General Manager of Team Performance Pat Howard said Saker's success with Victoria put him in good stead to lead the Australian cricket team if Lehmann opted to take another break from touring in a similar vein to the way Justin Langer filled in during the recent Caribbean tri-series
"David has had proven success with Victoria in the short time he has held the role, as well as success on the international stage, and that was a key part of the recruitment process," said Howard.
"It’s a testament to the success of our coaching pathway program in Australia, that Justin Langer and David have been elevated from within the system to senior roles in the Australian cricket team.
"The fact that David has been a head coach previously, also gives us an option should Darren be absent or need a break from touring.
"We anticipate he will lead the Australian team at some stage during 2017."
The move by Saker marks a quick about-face from March when he said that he "probably wouldn't be interested" in joining the national team.
"I’ve done a lot of travelling. It’d be a nice job but it probably hasn’t come at the right time," Saker told News Ltd in March.
Saker, who guided Victoria to last summer's Sheffield Shield title, he was looking forward to the opportunity.
"(Coaching Victoria's) been a brilliant experience – firstly coming back to Australia after my time in the UK and to taste success in Sheffield Shield in the first season was a fantastic feeling – it brought back all my memories as a player with Victoria," Saker said.
"The players – led by captain Matthew Wade – have been great to work with and have been committed to getting the results I know we can.
"My job was made a lot easier by my dedicated assistant coaches Lachlan Stevens, Mick Lewis and David Hussey, as well as all the other support staff.
"Obviously I am looking forward to this opportunity and joining the Australian ranks.
"I have no doubt I’ll still be in regular contact with many of the players I’ve coached at Victoria when they play at the national level."
Saker has had several run-ins with Lehmann over selection issues in his tenure as state coach.
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Saker omitted Peter Siddle from Victoria's Matador Cup squad last summer despite the national selectors' preference to see him bowl ahead of the New Zealand Test series.
The former Victoria and Tasmania seam bowler then warned selectors would be "mad" to return James Pattinson to the Test team to face the Black Caps, comments which earned a sharp rebuke from Lehmann.
"I think David Saker should concentrate on coaching Victoria and leave us to pick the side for Australia," Australia's head coach said at the same.
Saker was again defensive of his star fast bowler last November, saying he was "frustrated" to have to rest him from a Shield match in preparation for the West Indies tour, although he did agree the state side would work in conjunction with CA requirements.
Saker called the selection of Nathan Coulter-Nile "ridiculous" in December when the Western Australian was added to the Test squad following the injury to Mitchell Starc in Adelaide last summer.
He added that he was "really shocked" by some of the bowling selections on the 2015 Ashes tour and said the preference for high velocity bowlers that worked so well on Australian pitches should be ditched when overseas.
Lehmann today said he welcomed the "robust discussions about the good of Australian cricket".
"What impressed me most about David was his vision of where he is heading as a coach and also where he wants to take our young group of bowlers and players," Lehmann said.
"He and I have always had robust discussions about the good of Australian cricket, he is passionate and I appreciate that. I love his attitude and he will bring great energy to our group."
Saker's appointment also leaves Victoria searching for its third head coach in as many seasons.
Cricket Victoria Chief Executive Tony Dodemaide thanked Saker for his service and said the Bushrangers would commence an "international search" for his replacement.
"Naturally we’re sorry to see David go, especially after the success we experienced in his first year of coaching Victoria, but we fully endorse and support his move into the national ranks with Australia," Dodemaide said.
"David has had a fantastic impact on both the wider playing group and our structures to ensure Victoria continues to be successful on and off the field.
"In particular, the improvement in our younger players like Peter Handscomb, Travis Dean, Marcus Stoinis, Scott Boland and Chris Tremain was a highlight under David’s tutelage and we hope they will get to work with him again soon in the national teams."