Strauss holds Gillespie talks as Pietersen haunts sorry England
England slump in first Test as hunt for a new coach goes on... and Pietersen's shadow lurks
As England struggled on the first day of the first Test of the summer, slumping to 30-4 against New Zealand, Andrew Strauss was preparing for talks with former Australian bowler Jason Gillespie about taking over as England coach.
The current Yorkshire coach is in "a strong position" to take over from caretaker Paul Farbrace, who was installed after the sacking of Peter Moores earlier in the month, says the Daily Telegraph.
However, with England in apparent disarray, they were four wickets down within an hour against the Kiwis at Lords, and in the aftermath of the Kevin Pietersen saga Gillespie is reportedly "having second thoughts" about the job.
His main concern is said to be the role of Strauss, who has made several "sweeping decisions" since taking over as director of cricket. Today's talks are designed to "allay any concerns [Gillespie] has over the scope of the role," says the Telegraph.
He would have to begin his reign with Alastair Cook as captain and Pietersen in exile. But the paper says he would be "given power in the future to make any changes he feels necessary as Strauss moves into the background to take a more strategic role, leaving the day to day management to the coach".
As usual the spectre of Pietersen hung over the preparations for the first Test at Lords. And when asked about Strauss's decision to jettison the batsman Cook said he supported his old opening partner and insisted that he had not tried to influence him.
"There was no ultimatum, I can deny that," said Cook. "I do not know where it came from."
Cook even denied discussing the issue with Strauss. And, as a post script to the sorry affair, Simon Hughes writes in The Times that there was no need to consult Cook. "Pietersen’s unsuitability for continuing as an England player is all laid out in black and white and Technicolor," he says. "[Pietersen] practises a sort of sporting anarchy. How can you trust someone who does that to be part of a team? And what message would his rehabilitation send to the rest of the team?"
Of course, Hughes was writing before the start of play and before Pietersen's phalanx of cheerleaders began revelling in England's sorry performance.