Peter Moores was today unveiled as England’s new Head Coach after what ECB Managing Director Paul Downton described as the "culmination of three months work" at a press conference at Lord’s on Saturday morning.
Moores was sacked as coach by England in early 2009 following a spat with then-captain Kevin Pietersen. He now returns for a second stint, this time without Pietersen in the side following his axing in February.
Despite Moores’ time out of the England setup, ever since he was involved with the Academy in 2007 he has never been far from the nucleus of English cricket. Even when Andy Flower was coach, many of the players integral to that era of success—Matt Prior, Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Stuart Broad—were brought into the side and prospered under Moores beforehand.
Downton was effusive in his praise for Moores, saying his domestic credentials are "beyond reproach" in a statement on the ECB website. He went on to say of Moores: “He was the lead at the National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough between 2005 and his appointment as England coach in 2007.
“He also brought Andy Flower into the England set-up, as well as influential individuals like Mushtaq Ahmed as spin bowling coach. I was hugely impressed by his vision for the future of the England team.”
However, as much as the ECB’s praise for him is based on truths, that he is someone from the existing setup and someone the ECB have previously hired and, do not forget, fired is also a concern.
There is a growing feeling that English cricket needs someone from the outside who can shake things up slightly, put a bit of fear into the players and engineer a tougher, harder team. Whether Moores is the right man to do that is unclear.
He was impressive in his first media appearance at Lord’s, speaking openly and engagingly in contrast to the cliches and psychobabble of his previous tenure, and England will hope that a more relaxed Moores the person, is a more relaxed Moores the coach—with his intensity and domineering approach criticised by players during his last stint.
Moores stressed the immediate need to sit down and talk with Alastair Cook, who himself said he had been in a state of “limbo” since Andy Flower stepped down, and establish where to now for the England team.
Selection for the first Test of the summer against Sri Lanka is one issue that has dominated the media narrative thus far this season. However, before then, England have a 50-over and a T20 series against Sri Lanka to play, and squads and probably a new 20-over captain—Broad’s time appears to be over—will need to be found.
Another decision Moores may have to make is who to appoint as his backroom staff. Currently, Graham Gooch is the batting coach and David Saker the bowling coach, but whether they stay on in those roles is unclear.
Disconcertingly, Moores may not have a say in who is assistant will be. Rumours are growing that the appointment of Sri Lankan coach Paul Farbrace as Moores’ second in command is imminent. However, the haste with which such a move has been made makes you question whether Moores had a say in the decision. Indeed, Downton’s presence at the press conference was almost overbearing.
For Moores to engender the kind of success that got him the job in the first place, he needs to be given space by the board, and you’d hope they allow him that.
Moores is a highly respected coach, and although his previous time in charge did not work out, with a dearth of alternative options around, a Moores that has learned from past mistakes is someone who deserves an extended and liberated go at this immensely difficult and pressurised job.
England fans may still feel aggrieved about the Kevin Pietersen situation and indeed that England have gone back to the future for their new coach. However, they must throw their support behind Moores—for he is faced with a difficult task ahead.