FORMER Victorian and Tasmanian fast bowler David Saker does not officially start as England’s bowling coach for another fortnight. But in the eyes of many of his friends, including some who could be bowling against England in the Ashes later this year, he is already part of the enemy.”Most of the text messages I’ve got are already describing me as ‘you bloody Pom’. The Peter Siddles and Clint McKays have wished me not too much luck,” the 43-year-old said yesterday, after his progression from bowling coach of the Bushrangers.Saker was selected ahead of higher-profile candidates, such as countryman Craig McDermott and South African Allan Donald, as the permanent replacement for Ottis Gibson, now the head coach of the West Indies.While Saker appreciated the good-natured ribbing from his friends, he insisted they were right: his allegiances are already firmly in the England camp.”Once I put myself in the interview mode [last month] I was one of them, and since I’ve been offered the job obviously I’m one of them now. Everything I’ll be doing is about trying to take down the Aussies next season. I’m looking forward to that.”Saker’s solid first-class career, which included 45 Sheffield Shield wickets for the Bushrangers in 1998-99, was extended by a few seasons after he was poached to go to Tasmania by the Tigers’ then coach Greg Shipperd.”His passion for the contest, his spirit and knowledge of the game and his ability to share that enthusiasm with others was a key reason for initially having him as a player with Tasmania and then as the bowling coach for Victoria,” Shipperd said from India, where he is coaching Delhi in the Indian Premier League.”He’s less of a technical coach and more of a tactical coach, with some pretty definite ideas and, at times, alternative ideas too. He provides an interesting balance to the norm that is taught around the place, but at the same time he has the ability to judge individuals on their particular need.”He’s got a competitive instinct and his strategic bent on the game will certainly be of great comfort, I would have thought, to the English team.”Saker, who is laidback but has a very fiery temper (he infamously threw a cricket ball at an umpire during a spiteful Sheffield Shield final), acknowledged he was ”not a big technical person”.”Bowlers are there to get wickets and I don’t care if they look good. … what goes into their heads is most important in my opinion, not their technical stuff. Obviously you’ve got to be across the technical stuff … but my major strength is trying to get 20 wickets in a game.”
Nanjing Night Net