The new CA chair has indicated the next head coach will be confirmed next month
Lachlan Henderson, the new Cricket Australia chair, has said in recent days that the appointment of a new head coach will not be a drawn-out process and is likely to come to a conclusion in March. That raises the prospect of McDonald finding out midway through the tour whether he has the job or not, although he said he has yet to have conversations with CA on the matter.
“Very happy with whatever timelines they want to work within. It won’t become a distraction,” McDonald said. “That will just be happening in the background, our focus is firmly on the first Test in Rawalpindi and the preparation here, so we are firmly focused on that as a coaching staff.
“What happens outside of that with the process they run and how that looks is entirely up to the admin base to work through that and I’m sure they won’t be making that a distraction for us at all. The coaching stuff is well and truly in the background for us here.”
When Langer resigned earlier this month CA chief executive Nick Hockley indicated the board would look for one replacement rather than splitting the roles between red and white ball, although speaking to ABC Radio, Henderson said it was a topic he would take more soundings on.
“I’m open to advice on that [split coaching],’ he said. “I think it is a very time-consuming role for one individual and maybe a more distributed method of coaching is the way of the future. They’re the sort of things that are playing out at the moment. We are going for a single head coach to be installed in the near future.
“How it plays out after that will depend a bit on that appointment, their availability and how that works across all forms of the game in what’s going to be a really busy 12 to 18 months. It may be that person is not available for every single tour around the world over the next 18 months.”
George Bailey, the national selector, is of the view that the new head coach sitting out some series would not present a major challenge – it was used during the Langer era with McDonald leading limited-overs tours of India and New Zealand, while he was due to oversee the recent Sri Lanka T20Is before Langer’s departure.
“Essentially, what you’re after is trying to find the very best person for the role, and you want to keep them in there as long as possible,” he said. “If that means that they don’t do absolutely every tour that’s fine.
“I don’t think there’s an easy answer. I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all and I don’t necessarily think whichever structure is landed on by Cricket Australia will necessarily be the right one when you next have to make that appointment.”
For now, McDonald is enthused by the challenge that lies ahead over the next few weeks in Pakistan as Australia tour the country for the first time in 24 years.
“I’ll work through it once we see what the job looks like,” he said. “There’s been some speculation around split roles, whether it’s one coach and all that type of thing, that’ll all come out. The key thing for us is to focus on the cricket. We’ve got a big job in the next three days, then getting the preparation right when we land, so that’s where are our thoughts are firmly focused to give these players the best opportunity to succeed.
“You can see the excitement within the group. It’s a little bit of the unknown as well and think that’s always exciting going somewhere people haven’t been before. We’ve got a creative element to what we can do as well on the back of Australian teams not being there for a period of time.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo