They say moving on is hard to do. They’re wrong. It’s bloody hard. But, alas, we must. Moaning isn’t fun anymore and it won’t do us any good – unless someone, somewhere, does actually have a plan to storm the barricades at ECB headquarters.
The uncomfortable truth is the ECB have got away with their dastardly deeds and there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s not the first calamity the ECB have overseen and it won’t be the last.
What’s more, now the initial anger has relented I can actually see the logic in their decisions. I cannot agree with how they’ve gone about things, but I can at least see some kind of rationale.
Let’s look at things from Paul Dowton’s perspective: there was no viable alternative to Alastair Cook as captain. This might be a terrible state of affairs, but it happens to be the truth.
Once the captain wanted Kevin Pietersen bundled into a rocket and launched into outer space, what was Downton supposed to do? He couldn’t fire the captain so firing KP into orbit was his only option. The status quo was untenable.
Downton couldn’t tell us the truth about KP because the truth was too uncomfortable to utter publically: “Cook is weak, but he’s the best we’ve got; therefore the best player must be sacrificed”.
This is probably what Downton thought but he couldn’t announce it to the world. Instead he implied some kind of cultural schism that couldn’t be reconciled. What would you have said to the media instead? It was a tricky one to say the least.
What’s more, political factors cannot be ignored in all this. Pietersen’s face didn’t fit with the ECB stooges, Downton knew this, and he didn’t feel comfortable, in his first day in the job, sacking the captain to preserve the career of a batsman his employers and co-workers didn’t like.
None of this is ideal, I grant you, but you can see why it happened. Sometimes we are all hamstrung by circumstances and no gnashing of teeth can change things.
It’s all very well for bloggers like me to write how much they dislike Cook – I still do, and will probably always think he’s somewhat overrated – but if it’s a choice between a 33 year old batsman or a 29 year old one, one must be practical.
What’s more, where does my dislike of Cook actually come from? It’s my hang-up, my prejudice, and it’s probably really unfair. By all accounts he’s nice guy. And I’m an intolerant miserable git with one per cent of his talent (if that).
And then we come to Moores … I cannot agree with the decision to appoint him but again, I can see why the decision was made.
The ECB know how they’re perceived across the land (and the world). Much as we like to portray them as aloof, arrogant fuddy duddies, they’re not entirely stupid.
Giles Clarke might act like a ponce, but he’s an incredibly smart man – and one hell of a negotiator and politician.
Meanwhile, James Whitaker is an intelligent, dignified man. He was a distinguished player and captained lowly Leicestershire to the country championship twice in 1996 and 1998. He knows what decisions will be popular and which ones will not – he wouldn’t have taken the decision to sack Pietersen and appoint Moores lightly.
When it came to appointing a new coach the ECB were hamstrung by two factors (a) the IPL, which ties up the best coaches with rickshaws full of dosh and (b) the fallout of the KP debacle.
They couldn’t tell the world the real reasons for sacking Pietersen, so they were powerless as the fans revolted and the international cricket community sneered. What coach worth his salt would want to walk into that mess?
The reality is only five credible coaches actually expressed an interest the job: Moores, Giles, Newell, Bayliss and Robison.
There were compelling reasons to disregard all these candidates. Moores was a failure first time round. Giles was an incumbent failure. Newell has been in county cricket for a long time and probably won less than he should have done, and Bayliss was Australian (which wouldn’t feel right).
That left Robinson as the only remaining candidate, but his appointment would’ve made no sense because he’s essentially Moores light. Why eat low calorie chocolate when you can eat the real thing?
Given a choice between what the makers of South Park would call a giant douche and four turd sandwiches (please excuse the crude metaphor) the ECB put its faith in the giant douche. They called him ‘the best coach of his generation’ at the press conference, but what were they going to say?
“Hello everyone, we’re a little bit embarrassed to introduce you to the new / old England coach, Peter Moores. He was the best we could get. Depressing, isn’t it”
Moores was the best candidate willing to accept the job. I’m sure of this. What’s more, he does have his supporters. Many, many people in the English game think highly of him.
It’s an inconvenient truth for the naysayers, but highly respected observers like Mike Atherton, Ian Botham, Nasser Hussain, plus experienced journalists like Mike Selvey, George Dobell and yes, Jonathan Agnew, have some very positive things to say about Moores.
This leaves critics like us in an awkward position: we can either accept they know better than us or concoct some kind of conspiracy whereby journos and broadcasters are only being nice to Moores because they have to (to preserve their access to England press conferences and keep the sponsors happy etc). Much as conspiracies are fun, they’re usually wrong.
I think the obvious point is this: the ECB were in a terrible mess at the end of the Ashes. They probably wanted to appoint a new captain but they couldn’t. They probably wanted a better coach, but again they couldn’t. At least they didn’t appoint bloody Giles.
Which brings me back to the title of this post: it’s time to move on. I’m going to find it harder than most to support an England team led by two men I dislike – two men who make me cringe when I see them talk on camera – but what choice do I have?
I’m not going to start a revolution (and neither are you).
I’m not going to support someone else (and neither are you).
I enjoy watching cricket far too much to become disengaged and ignore England’s matches until Moores is sacked and Cook is back amongst the rank and file (and I suspect you do too)
What’s more, I have a cricket blog to run, and not everyone agrees with the cynical, negative view of English cricket we’ve articulated in recent weeks.
In the words of Peter Moores, and every other cricket coach England have employed in recent times, it’s time to take the positives.
I’ll give you one now: Paul Farbrace is a gem. What’s more, appointing an assistant coach is a good way to prevent burnout without resorting to split coaching teams for tests and ODIs (which didn’t work).
Whenever Moores needs to take a break (and let’s hope it’s often) Farbrace can step into the breach. This gives scope for rest and recuperation while ensuring continuity.
Maybe the ECB are geniuses after all?*
* no they aren’t