Bangalore: Australia and New Zealand could be battling for the services of Allan Donald as bowling coach, after the South African made it to the final round of interviews to replace Troy Cooley in the Australian setup. Donald worked with New Zealand for several months before and during the World Cup, and while they are keen to retain him, the decision may be taken out of their hands.
Craig McDermott, the former Australia fast bowler and Academy coach, and the Tasmania assistant Allister de Winter also made the cut for a second interview with Cricket Australia. However, Donald would be a more unexpected choice if he was offered the job, as Australia have traditionally not been inclined to employ foreign talent on their coaching staff.
Cricket Australia's general manager of cricket, Michael Brown, has conducted the final round of interviews and was expected to put an offer to the chosen candidate this week. An announcement on who will replace Cooley, who is now the head coach at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane, is likely to come over the next week.
"I am waiting on a call from Cricket Australia in the next 48 hours [from Tuesday's final interviews] and then I'll make my decision," Donald told ESPNcricinfo on Wednesday. If he does not win the Australian position, Donald is expected to remain with New Zealand.
Both teams could benefit from the experience of Donald, who is reportedly strong on the mental aspects of the game, not just the technical. That could be ideal for an Australian attack led by Mitchell Johnson, although a New Zealand bowling group that has lost the veterans Shane Bond and Iain O'Brien in the past couple of years would also gain from working with a champion such as Donald.
New Zealand's director of cricket, John Buchanan, said the role of bowling coach would be of great importance in the immediate future for their youthful attack. The veteran spearhead Chris Martin turns 37 later this year and can't go on forever, so young men like Tim Southee and Hamish Bennett will need to take on more responsibility over the coming seasons.
"I spoke to [the coach] John Wright at length and he was very impressed with him [Donald], the way he went about what he did," Buchanan told ESPNcricinfo. "He probably spends more time with bowlers in terms of the way they think about the game and their game awareness, as opposed to being too technical about what bowling requires. John's comment was that his group responded very well to him and he was very keen to keep him on board if he could.
"Having that sort of experience and knowledge around is one way of upskilling the younger guys who have less of that, but offer a lot of other things. It is a critical role, certainly for the next couple of years anyway."
In addition to having taken 330 Test wickets at an average of 22.25, Donald has plenty of coaching experience on his CV. He spent a short time as England's bowling coach in 2007 and took charge of the Zimbabwe domestic side Mountaineers last year, before taking up his role with New Zealand.