South African Paddy Upton, touted as a possibility to be the next New Zealand cricket coach, yesterday confirmed he was not a contender.
Upton was shoulder-tapped by New Zealand Cricket to apply for the job when John Wright steps down following the completion of New Zealand's Caribbean tour. Had he applied, Upton was viewed as a strong favourite, given how smitten NZC was with South Africa's off-field systems when they toured here last summer. Upton was a key lieutenant of coach Gary Kirsten and seen as somebody who could implement a similar philosophy with a struggling New Zealand side.
"Clearing speculation. After being invited to apply, I've withdrawn as candidate for NZ head coach job," Upton wrote on his Twitter account.
Along with Upton, former Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody was also asked to apply but he too declined.
That leaves former Otago coach Mike Hesson the frontrunner in a field of uninspiring candidates, which include current assistant Trent Woodhill and Glamorgan coach Matthew Mott, another Australian.
They will face a final round of interviews this week.
The fact the likes of Upton and Moody have turned down interviews shows just how unattractive the international game is becoming for coaches when viewed alongside Twenty20 franchise leagues. Both Moody and Upton have lucrative jobs in the Indian Premier League.
For two to three months' work they effectively earn what NZC could offer for a year. The IPL also leaves them open to take other short-term contracts. A mid to low-ranking international gig with New Zealand would now be viewed as a development step for coaches, not a sign they've cracked the big time.
The candidates are being interviewed by a panel consisting of NZC chief executive David White, director of cricket John Buchanan, Rob Hart, Stephen Fleming and High Performance Sport New Zealand chief executive Alex Baumann. The selection panel wants to confirm a candidate by July 25.