Mickey Arthur, the highly rated coach, has pledged his loyalty to South African cricket amid speculation that he is in the running to take over the job of England coach. The Proteas coach is thought to be the top target of the England and Wales Cricket Board to replace Peter Moores, who was sacked in January following a high-profile falling out with then captain Kevin Pietersen.
Reports have continuously linked Arthur with the role, but he has scotched suggestions that he will be in charge of the side for their summer programme, despite suggesting his agent had been contacted in discussions with the ECB. "I certainly didn't apply for the job," said Arthur. "There have been chats back and forth, but I've only chatted to the agent who looks after me. My loyalties are totally with South Africa - I honestly can't see myself going to England at this point in time."
Arthur, 40, also pledged his full support to his current employers, adding: "I've got another three years on my contract with Cricket South Africa, and I'm really excited about where we're at. "I'm really excited about the team we have and the brand of cricket we're playing, and I think the next three years are going to be very, very good for South Africa. I want to be part of that." With Graham Ford also ruling himself out of the running the likelihood of interim coach Andy Flower, who oversaw the tour of the West Indies at short notice, taking the job permanently look to have increased.
Arthur, meanwhile, has described today's third one-day international against Australia in Cape Town as one of his side's most important fixtures of the year as the two sides prepare to meet for the eighth time in 12 weeks. South Africa were 4-1 victors during their five-match series Down Under and with the score 1-1 in the ongoing sequence of games, the Proteas coach knows that a win for either team will tilt the balance heavily in their favour.
"This match is hugely important," said Arthur. "It's about the side who want it more. "The side who win it will take a lot from it. The two sides are so close, that if you just open the door, the other side will walk through. "It's going to be one of the most important ODIs of the summer so we'll be looking to take the initiative." Arthur is pleased Jacques Kallis suffered no set-back in his return from a groin injury on Sunday.
He added: "Jacques brings so much balance to our team. He is like two players. We couldn't play an extra seamer in Durban because our tail was long, so I'm very happy to have him back. "We now bat down to No 10, and I include Wayne Parnell, because although he hasn't done much with the bat yet, I regard him as a future all-rounder. "We also have seven bowling options. So our current squad is as good as we've ever had."
* With agencies