Paul Farbrace admitted it will be a “huge wrench” to leave the England set-up before this summer’s World Cup and Ashes double header after accepting Ashley Giles’ old job in charge of Warwickshire.
Farbrace has been an influential assistant coach for the past five years but will miss the national side’s biggest season in recent memory having agreed to take over as sport director at Edgbaston following the West Indies tour.
In an ideal world the 51-year-old would have bowed out at the same time as head coach Trevor Bayliss, who will walk away at the end of his contract in September, but could not resist the chance to take a long-term role with the Bears.
Farbrace revealed Warwickshire were prepared to let him remain in post until the end of their World Cup campaign but Giles – who left the county to become managing director of the England men’s team in December – made the decision to cut ties swiftly in a bid to reduce disruption.
“It’s a huge wrench. It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I found it hard telling one or two people yesterday and I couldn’t tell too many this morning,” an emotional Farbrace said.
“I had to send a WhatsApp around the players and management…even now just thinking about it, it’s tough because I’ve had the opportunity to do something I never dreamed I would come close to doing. I wasn’t good enough to play international cricket, I only played a little bit of county cricket.
“I thought the chance to work with England would never come. All the way through the last couple of months I’ve thought ‘I really hope I get the job’ but at the same time walking away from this set-up is really difficult. It’s not something I’ve done lightly.”
There is no doubting the timing is awkward. Farbrace pre-dates Bayliss’ arrival, joining the set-up as number two to Peter Moores and taking the reigns on an interim basis when the latter was sacked
He immediately earned praise for the attacking cricket he encouraged during Test and one-day series against New Zealand and was credited with kickstarting the white-ball revolution which has raised them to world number one status in 50-over cricket.
Whether Giles was right to end the relationship ahead of the summer’s main events may only be known down the line.
“The perfect time in my view would have waited until the end of the Ashes,” Farbrace admitted.
“I told Ash I would be guided by him, when he thought the time was right, and if he wanted me to stay until after the World Cup I was happy to do that. Warwickshire were happy for me to do that. They knew it’s a big summer for English cricket and the timing definitely isn’t right, but things don’t always work out like that.
“He (Giles) felt that this was the right time to cause as little disruption as possible. From a really selfish point of view I’d have liked to go on but that wasn’t the right thing to do.
“If it means I have to watch a few World Cup games on the television, then I’ll still be as enthusiastic and excited. My neighbours may have to shut their windows from time to time.”
Paul Collingwood, currently in the Caribbean as part of the limited-overs coaching team, is the favourite to step into Farbace’s shoes in the coming months. An interim appointment is almost certain given Bayliss’ impending departure and the former one-day captain fits the bill.
“Colly’s been around World Cups as a player, that was one of the reasons for getting him involved in the group, and whenever he’s been involved he’s been absolutely fantastic,” said Farbrace.