MICK NEWELL was once described to me by a Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club official as “a man who could land in a bucket of brown stuff and still come up smelling of roses”.
The chap actually used a stronger term than “brown stuff”, but the implication was clear.
Throughout his cricketing life, Newell has had a habit of falling on his feet and coming up trumps.
On that basis, the Nottinghamshire director of cricket should be a shoo-in for the role of England head coach.
No one, of course, believes that is true – least of all Newell.
One of four men on the England and Wales Cricket Board’s shortlist to replace Andy Flower, he is the outsider of that quartet behind – in no particular order – England one-day coach Ashley Giles, former England coach Peter Moores and ex-Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss.
At 49, Newell admits it is “now or never” in terms of his ambitions to land what he considers “the ultimate” job for an English coach.
He feels that chance might not come around again for several years, by which time England might deem him too old.
In short, either this is his time – or his time will never come.
Although the odds are probably on the latter, Newell would represent an excellent and forward-thinking choice.
Granted, his is not the sexiest name on the shortlist; unlike Giles, he has not played international cricket, his career having amounted to 102 first-class games for Nottinghamshire between 1984 and 1992 in which he scored 4,636 runs at 30.50.
Nor has he coached at full international level like Giles, Moores and Bayliss.
But he has been part of the England Lions coaching set-up, while he has worked regularly with top international cricketers at Nottinghamshire, where he has built an impressive CV.
Newell is actually the longest-serving county coach, having come up smelling of roses for certain when he got the Nottinghamshire job in 2002 after the sacking of Clive Rice.
Nottinghamshire put their faith in Newell, hitherto their second-team coach, and he responded by leading them to County Championship promotion in his first season.
The club won the Championship title in 2005 and 2010 and last summer won the YB40.
He has helped transform a county that had under-achieved since his own playing career and the days of Rice and Richard Hadlee.
The reason I think Newell would be a good choice is this: He is a man-manager, which is precisely what England need, and a strong one, too.
It is why Yorkshire’s first-team coach Jason Gillespie would have been a great choice had he not ruled himself out of the running.
I was covering Nottinghamshire for the Nottingham Evening Post when Newell took over and I remember that his first act as coach was to drop a chap called Kevin Pietersen, who had been struggling for runs.
Pietersen resented it – not least because he disagreed with Rice’s dismissal – but it was a masterstroke.
When he returned to the team, Pietersen hit four successive hundreds. It played a key part in helping the side to Championship promotion – and marked Newell down as an individualist unafraid to take tough decisions.