Australia in India 2017 March 10, 2017

Saker to stand-in for Lehmann during India ODIs

David Saker: 'My ambition is to coach Australia full-time' © Getty Images

Australia's assistant coach David Saker will stand in for Darren Lehmann on the ODI tour of India that takes place later this year, but admits the fact that he has not played international cricket will count against him in calculations to replace Lehmann after the head coach's contract expires in 2019.

Lehmann has previously indicated that the conclusion of his current deal, following the double of the World Cup and an Ashes tour both in England, is highly likely to be the end of his tenure as coach of the national team. Saker returned to Australia from England and coached Victoria to the Sheffield Shield in his first season before being named as Lehmann's assistant last year.

While not shying away from saying that he would be more than capable of being Australia's head coach, Saker conceded that a first-class career as a swing bowler for Victoria that did not feature any international cricket would likely count against him in Cricket Australia's calculations.

The Western Australia coach Justin Langer and the Adelaide Strikers coach Jason Gillespie - both of whom stood in to mentor the Australian Twenty20 team last month alongside Ricky Ponting - are commonly considered the most likely successors to Lehmann.

"It's a huge honour to be even considered to be a coach of an Australian team and to be given the opportunity is fantastic. I'm going to look forward to it a lot," Saker said. "My ambition is to coach Australia but I know not playing cricket for Australia makes it a little bit harder. But I think I've been involved in Test cricket, one day cricket and Twenty20 cricket a lot. I've seen a lot of cricket so I think I could do the job without a doubt."

Saker's frank assessment of international cricket being a factor in his chances is not mere opinion. Lehmann and by extension CA have emphasised the importance of international playing experience in the coaching staff over the past four years, to the point that playing the game at the top level as a player is believed to be a factor in areas such as coach's contract length and level of remuneration.

The decision to use a stand-in coach for the India ODI tour is a mirror of Australia's plans in 2013, when Lehmann remained at home ahead of the home Ashes series alongside several members of the Test team including David Warner, Michael Clarke and Steven Smith. The touring team were instead led by George Bailey as captain and Steve Rixon as coach, and gave a good account of themselves until an in-form Mitchell Johnson was sent home ahead of the series deciding final game.

India went on to win the last match to take a high-scoring series, but the result was to be little remembered in the aftermath of Australia's subsequent 5-0 sweep of England on home shores. Saker was then a part of England's support staff - he will be hoping this time to aid the hosts in regaining the urn, both by his guidance in India and in the Ashes Tests that follow.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Saad on March 12, 2017, 4:17 GMT

    it would be Langer with Gillispie as a bowling coach when Saker's contract expires.

  • Aniruddha on March 11, 2017, 6:18 GMT

    To have Ricky Ponting as a coach is a nightmare. Rather to ask Saker to continue is a good idea. Ricky's impression on the team will hamper the growth and down the line the team will indulge more in verbal tactics rather than playing a game like a gentlemen. No doubt Ricky as a player is the best but to have him as coach; hard to digest for the so called Betterment of Aussie cricket.

  • naishadh on March 10, 2017, 17:41 GMT

    Its alright. As It looks like Ashwin said, Incidents that are happening with the Aus cricket team are nothing more than school cricket level. Brainfades, not knowing the rules, calling people who point out their mistakes outrageous even after the person accepted his mistake! So, with due respect to Saker, not having International exposure will hardly hurt this Aussie team!

  • Alex on March 10, 2017, 17:35 GMT

    David Saker is 1966. Fire horse. Brilliant/innovative. But being too frank is not way to go sometime. Great leader never critique player but make player work without telling them every time. Micro managers never be good leader. Horses are ok if you use them then and there. They excel in short time. if you put them for a long time job , someone have to keep them motivating. They are not occupiers , they are roamers. For me they are better as consultant than actual incharge mainly because they do not get obsessed over control. They are freedom loving people.

  • dsnotr1737293 on March 10, 2017, 17:14 GMT

    for this ODI series give warne smith hazelwood rest. Open with Finch Maddinson head Bailey lynn Stoinis paine zampa behrendorff paris K Richardson turner J richardson KP Faulkner. let the Ashes guys be focus on tests only.

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