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Warwickshire to implement Rooney Rule in hunt for new head coach

Warwickshire believe they have become the first “professional first-class county” to adopt the principles of the Rooney Rule in launching the appointment process for a new head coach of their men’s team.

The club, which sacked Jim Troughton from the position last week, published an advert for the vacant position on November 2. Applications must be received by November 14 with an appointment expected around a month later.

In that advert, the club has reiterated its “commitment to representing the communities it serves” and its desire to employ “a diverse and inclusive workforce at all levels of the organisation”. As a result, Warwickshire have confirmed the “principles of the Rooney Rule will be adopted to encourage applications from suitably qualified BAME candidates.” This is, they state, “the first time that a professional first-class county has adopted these principles”.

The Rooney Rule – named after Dan Rooney, the former chair of the NFL’s diversity committee – is a form of affirmative action that demands ethnic-minority candidates are interviewed for head coaching and senior administrative positions.

“In line with Warwickshire’s Equal Opportunities policy and desire to adopt the principles of the Rooney Rule, should the club receive applications from suitably qualified BAME candidates they will be added to the vacancy short list with a minimum of one BAME candidate invited to first interview,” the advert continues.

While Warwickshire recently signed Manraj Johal, a seamer who has graduated from their own academy, by the time the 2020 season finished the club had no non-white player or senior coach on their staff. And while the club played a part in the development of the likes of Kabir and Moeen Ali as young players, both felt a need to move to Worcestershire to win greater opportunity. Their nephew, 16-year-old Ismail Mohammed, recently made the same decision.

The current management at Warwickshire are acutely aware of this failure of the squad to reflect the local community and are determined to rectify it. As well as this adoption of the Rooney Rule, they have recently signed up to the African-Caribbean Engagement (ACE) programme.

“There shouldn’t be a barrier in the mind of anybody with the right experience who wants to apply for this job,” Stuart Cain, Warwickshire’s chief executive, said. “So, we think it’s right to adopt the principle of the Rooney Rule in the same way as many of the world’s leading sports organisations have.

“Birmingham is one of the UK’s, if not Europe’s, most diverse cities and we have to reflect this when holding a mirror up to the club and how we operate at every level, from the board down”.

Among the other criteria required by the advert, a “tangible proof of developing teams capable of winning domestic cricket competitions” is demanded, as is “proven success at winning trophies, domestically or internationally”. The likes of David Saker, currently with Sri Lanka, and Ottis Gibson, currently with Bangladesh, would be certain to gain an interview if they apply while, from closer to home, Graeme Welch, the club’s current bowling coach, would also be a strong candidate.

The principles of the Rooney Rule will also be utilised by the ECB when appointing specialist coaches to work with both the England team and the most promising county players. They are expected to appoint specialist batting, seam bowling and spin bowling coaches in the coming months.

Marcus Trescothick and Jon Lewis (the former Durham head coach) are expected to challenge for the batting position, while Jon Lewis (the former England seamer and current England U19 coach) and Welch are well placed for the seam-bowling job. Jeetan Patel is favourite for the spin position.

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