If conventional wisdom suggests that you should never go back, the England Cricket Board have turned their back on that old adage with their re-appointment of Peter Moores as the head coach in all three formats of the national side. Moores’ previous reign, you may remember, ended after two tumultuous years in 2009 when then-captain Kevin Pietersen (remember him?) attempted to have the former Sussex coach cast aside by the ECB. The attempted coup cost Pietersen his role as captain and Moores his position as head coach; however after the ECB sacked Pietersen earlier this year the door dramatically opened for Moores reintroduction to the national set-up.
In fairness to Moores his pedigree at county level is unmatched over the past decade, with ECB managing director Paul Downton’s assertion that he is the “outstanding coach of his generation” not too far from the mark. Moores helped secure Sussex’s first ever County Championship title in 2003 and that achievement was the main cause of his hiring as England head coach back in 2007 following Duncan Fletcher’s resignation. That changing of the guard occurred after a 5-0 reverse down under, and with Moores inheriting an equally dire situation in the present day the circumstances should feel all too familiar.
This time around it has been Moores’ success with Lancashire, whom he led to the County Championship crown in 2011, that has seen his reputation return to its previously esteemed level. The red rose county’s victory was their first in 71 years and was achieved despite a lack of marquee names and England test caps, with veteran bowler Glenn Chapple leading both the bowling attack and the side as captain. Relegation followed in 2012 but last season saw an immediate return to the top flight. Left arm spin bowler Simon Kerrigan enjoyed a fantastic campaign and although his test debut was a disaster last September it is he who stands to benefit the most from Moores’ appointment. The England team is in desperate need of a genuine wicket taking threat in the spin department following the retirement of Graeme Swann and with options thin on the ground Moores is likely to look in the direction of the man who performed reliably for him last season.
Back in 2007 a similar situation played out when Sussex wicket keeper Matt Prior was given a chance at test level by his former county coach, and following his omission from the side for the final two Ashes tests last winter Prior will be hoping to be given one last shot at a test career by his original mentor. However it shouldn’t be forgotten that Moores is also the man who persuaded the mercurial Jos Buttler to join Lancashire this past off-season, which could narrow the battle for the England wicket keeping role down to those two individuals. One near certainty is that Jonny Bairstow, who plays for Lancashire’s fierce rivals Yorkshire, is currently a distant third in the race to don the gloves come the first test match of the summer.
While originally it seemed the job was Ashley Giles’ to lose a terrible run of limited overs results, firstly in the Caribbean and then in the World T20 in Bangladesh, may have seen him do just that. A loss to the Netherlands may well have been the final straw for the ECB, who after a winter of PR nightmares would have detested being forced to defend yet another decision after the Kevin Pietersen episode. Speaking of Pietersen, its not unlikely that his removal from the international scene played a role in Downton deciding that going back to Moores was a realistic possibility. The two clearly couldn’t co-exist and following the batsman’s latest fallout with senior management perhaps Downton and his colleagues at the ECB decided Moores was treated unfairly when dismissed five years ago. Moores close relationship with Andy Flower, who was originally introduced the the England fold by Moores as his assistant, couldn’t have hurt either.
Moores’ task won’t be an easy one, quite the opposite in fact, but he brings an intimate knowledge of the county game with him to the role as well as international experience and a familiarity with many of the current squad. Don’t forget that it was Moores who gave James Anderson and Stuart Broad their first prolonged international exposure, not to mention handing a test debut to current captain Alistair Cook. If he can find some equally talented players from the county circuit then Moores may just be the right man to lead the new era, sans Kevin Pietersen, of English cricket.