As our regular readers know, we’re big critics of Peter Moores here at TFT. We didn’t think he was the right appointment last year, and judging by England’s difficult 2014 and disastrous World Cup, we believe our fears were justified.
However, there is another side to all this. Perhaps we’re being unkind and looking for scapegoats? New TFT writer Philip Lewis thinks this might be the case.
His article below is a thoughtful defence of Moores that acknowledges some of his shortcomings while arguing he should be given the chance to change. After all, players can improve so why not coaches?
It’s only natural that after dismal failure in any walk of life scapegoats are sought. So it is that Paul Downton and Peter Moores (I deliberately mention them in that order – after all, Downton appointed Moores) should answer for our shameful performance in the World Cup.
It’s not difficult to have some sympathy for Moores. It now seems that, certainly as far as the white ball game is concerned, he was selected for a post for which he was unsuited.
However, with a demanding and challenging few months coming up, now seems the wrong time to plunge the England set-up into uncertainty by sacking Moores. This would simply repeat the unsettling situation that followed the replacement of Cook by Morgan as one-day captain shortly before the World Cup.
First things first. We shouldn’t forget that Moores got the England job first time around as a result of the excellent job he did with Sussex. In winning the county’s first ever County Championship title in 2003, and beginning a golden decade for Sussex cricket, he turned an unfashionable, permanently under-achieving club into a force in the land.
Some less charitable cricket followers will claim that he wouldn’t have done it without Mushtaq’s 103 wickets, but all winning teams have star performers, and there’s no doubt that Moores was a huge success on the South Coast.
His first spell with England was hardly a resounding success, but another spell in county cricket, this time with Lancashire, saw Moores repeat his success with Sussex. In doing so he became the first man to lead two counties to County Championship titles.
We don’t know exactly why Downton and the ECB were convinced Moores could be successful with England second time around. He has not played international cricket and most people would argue that success in the county game is not necessarily a guarantee of similar success in the international arena.
This criticism is understandable. It’s unthinkable, for example, that Chelsea would replace Jose Mourinho with a manager who had been a great success at, say, Bristol City: they would look for a proven track record at the top level given the demands the manager faces and the enormous rewards for success.
Furthermore, Moores is surrounded by coaches who are similarly steeped in English county cricket, Kevin Shine, Peter Such, Chris Taylor and, most notably, Mark Ramprakash. It’s difficult to imagine Moores encouraging Joe Root to do a Maxwell or a de Viiliers and play with carefree abandon.
It’s even more difficult to think of Ramps doing so. It should be remembered that Ramprakash’s sublime talent never flourished on the international stage due to the very same caution and hesitancy that characterised England’s batting in this World Cup.
However, Moores will know all this. It was obvious to all watching the World Cup that the international game has moved on and England need to change. Supporters might demand that heads roll, but rather than sacking a coach with a limited squad a less headline-grabbing move would be to simply encourage Moores to learn from the recent debacle and adapt.
Professional sportsmen and women often talk about learning from failure. Just what is learned and how this informs future action is usually made much less clear, partly because interviewers never ask for this clarity. What’s certain, however, is that not all champions enjoy immediate success; they have to learn.
The England management team infuriated many at the World Cup by their stubbornness in refusing to change from what was obviously a failing formula. However they now have no choice but to alter their approach.
If the team continues in the same vein it will continue to fail miserably. In 2015 England have ten Tests, eleven ODIs and two T20s. Seven of the Tests and all but one of the white- ball games are against New Zealand and Australia. A repeat of the atrocious performances in World Cup 2015 is too awful to contemplate.
Peter Moores has been a successful county coach: doubtless he is an intelligent and resourceful man. Rather than sacking him at short notice, immediately before a tour to the West Indies, maybe it will be better for England in the short, and maybe the longer term, to let him develop in the role.
However he will need to change not just the playing and coaching personnel, but the way in which we play international cricket. The 2015 World Cup doesn’t have to be a disaster for English cricket, it could be the start of a new era.
Sacking Moores is the easy way out and it would appease those who seek a quick fix. It may even be the best fix. But let’s give him a chance to learn and develop.
Dr Philip Lewis