FORMER Australian fast bowler Jason Gillespie is a hot favourite to lead England into battle in the coming Ashes series.
Gillespie, who took 259 wickets in 71 Tests for Australia, is believed to be the England Cricket Board's preferred candidate, despite unease in some cricketing circles about opting for a third "foreign" coach in four appointments, after stints by Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower - both born in Africa - prior to Moores.
Gillespie, known as Dizzy throughout his playing career, was given a glowing endorsement by new national vice-captain Joe Root, who played under him at county side Yorkshire.
"I would love to work with him again," said Root, who was yesterday named England's cricketer of the year.
"I think he is brilliant to work with.
"At Yorkshire he has been fantastic in my development. He took over when we were in division two and we'd had a really poor season the year before, so the work he has done with the lads is fantastic.
"If he did get it, I'm sure he would do a very good job at the highest level too."
Other contenders for the position include fellow Australians Tom Moody and Trevor Bayliss, and former South Africa and India coach Gary Kirsten.
Former Australian opener Justin Langer was also sounded out by Strauss for the head coaching role, but confirmed yesterday that he had ruled himself out, instead agreeing to a two-year extension at the helm of Western Australia.
Langer said he harboured aspirations to coach at international level, but the travel demands were too big an impost on his family at this time.
"I am flattered to be associated with potential international coaching opportunities, but the timing isn't right for my family and I still feel there is much work to be done here in Western Australian and Australian cricket," Langer said.
"Having spent nearly 20 years on the road with the Australian team as a player and then coach, I respect what an enormous commitment it is to be away from your family for almost 12 months of the year.
"There is no doubt I have aspirations to coach internationally, but that will depend upon timing and opportunity in the future."
Langer, who was also linked to the vacant Indian coaching job, has already been touted as the next Australian head coach by present mentor Darren Lehmann.
The first Test between Australia and England will start on July 8 in Cardiff.
- APN SPORTS BUREAU
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