New ball please ... Wellington coach has to ask ECB for a day off to take his team to Twickenham

Last updated at 16:31 27 March 2008

Richard Halsall watched his team book a place in the Daily Mail U15 Cup Final at Twickenham on April 2 and then had to ask his new employers for the day off.

Halsall is swopping his role as Director of Sport at Wellington College to become the England cricket team's new fielding coach.

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Richard halsall

Pastures new: Richard Halsall is swapping rugby for cricket

Needless to say, the ECB are happy for him to break off from analysing the last 50 one-day internationals and 25 Test matches to hopefully enjoy a glorious swansong to his rugby coaching stint at the Berkshire school.

Halsall, who will start work with the England players as they prepare for the New Zealanders and South Africans this summer, has worked part time with county champions Sussex for seven years, initially coaching their U17s and U19s to titles.

Zimbabwe-born but very much a Lancashire man, the 39-year-old learned his rugby under John Bevan at Arnold School near Blackpool. But it was as a cricket all rounder, rather than a back row forward that he made his mark.

He was on Lancashire's books, a year below Mike Atherton and John Crawley, played for Cambridge University and in Australian grade cricket before becoming Director of Sport at Brighton College. Then, Sussex spotted his coaching abilities.

"I've loved my two years at Wellington but the England job was too tempting to pass up," said Halsall, "And I've been lucky to have coached some exceptional players."

Last season, his U15 side lost in the semi-finals, but last Saturday beat Oundle with 15 minutes of Halsall's champagne rugby to reach the Twickenham final against Millfield.

He will be taking more than a passing interest in the U18 Final too, in which Wellington play St Benedict's, Ealing.

Two of his proteges from last season, winger Sam Edgerley and centre Guy Armitage, have catapulted themselves from U15 rugby to the senior side and England U16s and will be key figures in Wellington's bid for a unique double.

"That wouldn't be bad," said Halsall, "and series wins against the Kiwis and South Africans would make my year."

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