Worcestershire have admitted that they could be facing a losing battle to hang onto their much-coveted coach Tom Moody.

Having made a three-man shortlist for the job of ECB Academy Director, Moody was yesterday down in London being interviewed. And there is now further reported interest in Moody from elsewhere in the international cricketing globe.

Following reports over the winter months that the West Indies and South Africa were ready to offer the giant Australian a job, India are now believed to have joined the queue for his services.

But the chance to take over from fellow Australian Rodney Marsh when he steps down from his role with the ECB in September is the role that appears to appeal most to Moody.

Candidates of the calibre of Lancashire coach Mike Watkinson, Sussex coach Peter Moores, former England captain Mike Gatting and Shropshire old boy John Abrahams were all on the original shortlist. But Moody is now considered the favourite.

"It's a job that really appeals to me," said Moody, following his interview yesterday. "It's different to what I've been doing with Worcestershire for the past few seasons, working with the development of players rather than with a team.

"But you'd better ask them what my chances are as I understand there are several good candidates. And, as to the question of any approach from India, it's the first I've heard of it."

Such interest is obviously very flattering for 39-year-old Moody, who has managed just one piece of silverware in his four years in control of playing affairs at New Road, despite a lot of near-misses and successive Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy final defeats to Gloucestershire.

For him to be linked with a move elsewhere on the eve of a new season would prove massively unsettling for Worcestershire, who are bidding to win back their place in the top flight of County Championship cricket after last year's relegation.

But, with Moody's contract due to expire at the end of the season, the club's chief executive Mark Newton believes that the current clamour to employ his director of cricket is only to be expected.

"Tom is considered in the very top rank of coaches in world cricket," said Newton. "It is widely known that his contract runs out at the end of the season and we understand he has personal ambitions so it is safe to expect developments at some stage over the next month or two, whether that involves him staying here with us at Worcester or whatever."

Moody, who starred first with Warwickshire when he first arrived in the Midlands in 1990, made the move to New Road the following season. He was then part of the Worcestershire playing staff until 1999, before returning two winters later to replace Bill Athey as coach.

Having arrived on a threeyear contract when he took over as Worcestershire's new coach early in 2001, Moody signed a two-year extension last year. But the county made it clear then that they would not stand in his way if he got the chance to further his career.

"I wouldn't be at all surprised if England or even Australia show interest in him for even the very top jobs, or he in them, as he has a great reputation within the game," said Newton.

"We knew of the interest in Tom both from the West Indies and South Africa, although I also know Tom did not reciprocate that interest. But I have to admit that mention of India's name has rather come out of the blue."