Former Warwickshire paceman Allan Donald, one of the coaches who have played a part in turning England into the world’s number one-ranked Test nation, is already planning to topple them from their lofty perch.
Donald was briefly England’s fast bowling coach four years ago before he opted for a return to county cricket in a similar role with Warwickshire.
He has since enjoyed stints in Zimbabwean domestic cricket as New Zealand’s fast bowling consultant, was recently appointed South Africa’s bowling coach as part of a new coaching team headed by his former Test team-mate Gary Kirsten and is already relishing a return to England for next summer’s three-Test series.
“The series in England is going to be a huge one for us,” Donald said. “We always weigh ourselves against England and Australia and next year’s series is going to have more on it with England going number one in the rankings.
“Neither side will hold back or take a backwards step so it promises to be a fantastic series. England at home will have lots to prove and we have a fantastic record in England.
“Having got to number one in the world England’s next challenge is to stay there but it also means that they are there to be toppled. For other sides it means that when you get a sniff of beating England you have to grasp it.”
During his stint with England, Donald worked closely with Andy Flower, who was then England’s batting coach, and he credits the former Zimbabwe batsman with bringing a more ruthless streak to England’s cricket since he was appointed team director.
“I have a serious amount of respect for Andy Flower,” Donald said. “I worked closely with him when he was batting coach and he has brought hardness and a real mental toughness to the team.
“When I was with England he brought a calmness to the dressing room and he’s doing that now. He’s proud of his players and he instils such belief in his team. Under him England have won the World Twenty20, retained the Ashes and now got to number one in the world. He has made England a difficult team to beat.”
Donald almost became England’s bowling coach again last year when he was shortlisted to replace Ottis Gibson but missed out to Australian David Saker who has enviable resources to work with.
“One of the main reasons for England’s success is that they have such a well-balanced attack,” Donald said. “Broad, Anderson, Bresnan and Tremlett – these guys are making a serious impact. But England also have depth to their resources. Steven Finn can’t get in the side at the moment and Graham Onions hasn’t played yet.
“When you’ve got bowlers like that with Test experience in your second string attack then it’s not such a big step up for them to make if they are called up to replace the first choice players.”
South Africa still have almost a year to plan how to end Flower’s run of success and Donald believes that a rare lengthy break from a busy international schedule will help.
“Our next series is against Australia in October so this break ought to benefit us and it really could not have come at a better time for us,” Donald said.
“It has given Graeme Smith time to recover from the knee operation he had recently and his rehab is going well. Dale Steyn’s elbow injury is also coming along well and he will start to bowl this week so, come October, they should be fully fit again.”