|Player:||AA Donald, RA Woolmer|
DateLine: 24th January 2007
South Africa legend Allan Donald has backed Bob Woolmer as the right man to guide England after the current Pakistan coach said he was "open to offers" following the World Cup. Woolmer, a former England batsman, is one of the leading contenders to succeed Duncan Fletcher, who has been criticized following England's 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia. That led the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to instigate a wide-ranging review of the team's performance, due to report in March, and there has since been widespread speculation that Fletcher will quit his post after the World Cup ends in the Caribbean in April. The 58-year-old Woolmer, who was approached prior to Fletcher's appointment by the ECB eight years ago, wants a fresh challenge after leading Pakistan in the West Indies. "I will be open to offers after the World Cup," Woolmer said."I would be foolish not to be. I have always been proud of playing for England and just missed out on coaching them (in the past) because the timing was not right. Coaching is my life. It is what I do best and I am keeping fit through hitting catches and walking for 45 minutes every day, and swimming 1,200 metres every other day." Woolmer, who will have been Pakistan coach for three years in June, previously spent five years as coach of South Africa having made his name in England with Warwickshire. "I can't think of a more experienced coach to take over the job if it was to come along," former Warwickshire and South Africa fast bowler Donald told the BBC on Monday. "He is such a dedicated bloke, very professional, he understands the England system very well and will set new challenges for an England squad." Woolmer, who played 19 Tests for England between 1975-8, was tipped for the England job in 1999 and will be out of contract at the end of the World Cup. "I have always been proud of playing for England and just missed out on coaching them in the past because the timing was not right," Woolmer said. "I was part of a side that beat Australia as a player and have a yearning to do so as a coach," he added. Woolmer and Donald were together for three successful years at Warwickshire, winning the one-day NatWest Trophy in 1993 and three trophies in 1994, including the first-class County Championship. "It is a very difficult one," said Donald of the England job. "To come from where England was when they won the Ashes, and where they are now which is pretty much rock bottom. Bob Woolmer is one of those people that likes those challenges. Like Pakistan - he saw that as a massive challenge and he has achieved something with them. He has changed a few things and taken a few people out of their comfort zones and maybe that is what England really need." Woolmer worked for the International Cricket Council as its high-performance manager before taking charge of Pakistan in 2004, where such has been his impact that officials at the Pakistan Cricket Board have indicated a willingness to offer him another contract when the World Cup ends. Among other names touted for the England job are current Sri Lanka coach and former Australia international Tom Moody and John Wright, previously India's coach and a former New Zealand batsman. Both men have played county cricket in England but neither is as experienced a coach as Woolmer.