x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Wells gets ready for school

The outgoing national team coach will still have an influence on cricket in the Emirates in his new role as a schoolmaster, says his new employer.

Colin Wells will replace Richard Illingworth as director of cricket at the British School.
Colin Wells will replace Richard Illingworth as director of cricket at the British School.

ABU DHABI // Colin Wells, the outgoing coach of the national team, will still have an influence on cricket in the Emirates in his role as a schoolmaster, according to his new employer. Wells, a former England one-day international player, ended his 18-month spell in charge of the national team last month, when he opted to take up a job as director of cricket at the British School Al Khubairat.

The move came as a surprise to some, not least the players he left behind, who are now facing up to the prospect of having yet another new head coach to answer to. However, the country will still stand to benefit from the former Sussex all-rounder's expertise, according to Paul Coackley, the Abu Dhabi school's principal. "He has a big contribution to make," said Coackley. "There have been some very positive developments within schools sport in Abu Dhabi. We are very much hoping we can contribute to the sporting development of the UAE.

"Obviously, we are desperately keen to develop sport within the school, but we do see this happening on a much broader basis," The British School's commitment to sport was emphasised at the start of the last school year, when they made three high profile appointments in their physical education department. Lyn Jones, a former Wales international, was recruited as director of rugby, Kellie Cogdon in a similar role within netball, while Richard Illingworth, who played in the 1992 World Cup final for England, was placed in charge of cricket.

Illingworth, a former England Test player who was briefly a county colleague of Wells at Derbyshire, was promoted to the ICC's elite panel of umpires last November. Hitherto, the Yorkshireman had been juggling his umpiring commitments with his role in the UAE, by overseeing two terms of cricket here, then heading back to the UK for the start of the English county season. However, membership of the ICC panel brings with it a year-round commitment, meaning he had to cede his position at the British School.

As a former teammate of Illingworth, Wells was already acquainted with the school. It was even his job - as head coach of the national team - to hand over the trophy to the school captain, Uzair Khan, when they won the inaugural Lifebuoy Abu Dhabi Inter School Under 16 cricket competition in March. "Richard's umpiring career has taken off," Coackley said. "We were hoping he would be with us for a couple of years before that happened, but it took off sooner than we expected.

"He advised us he didn't feel he could fulfil his commitment with the possibility of being here, there and everywhere with his umpiring career. "Being the school we are, we always develop a lot of interest, and Colin is someone we have kept in touch with over a period of time." The Emirates Cricket Board have said they expect to find a successor for "Wells within the coming weeks". @Email:pradley@thenational.ae