Friday, 25 April 2014

Column 8, 2014 – New era?

Printed in The Cricket Paper issue 80, Friday April 25, 2014. [Full text below]

As a member of the cricketing public – someone with no more access to inside information than anyone else on the outside – my impression of England cricket management is of an entrenched, old school, jobs-for-the-boys club where the most important qualification is the right tie. It has one eye on the purse-strings, one eye on an early G&T, and its back to the future.

I’d dearly like this impression to be wrong, but the announcement that Peter ‘Moorsey’ Moores will have a second crack at the England head coach job does little to dispel it.

Through Flower’s retirement, Pietersen’s exile and Cook’s cementing as the one solid foundation block for The New England to be built upon, there was much talk of starting afresh, a new era, a clean break.

The impression this gave was an exciting one. A shiny new set-up, sparkling with innovative approaches and contemporary ideas; a modern-era powerhouse, fizzing with energy, bursting with untapped potential.

Moores represents the precise opposite of a new era – namely the old era. Last time he had the job, Moores was Flower’s boss. They come from the same school of analytical, stat driven, attritional cricket. Laptops, spreadsheets, gyms, and quinoa.

They are similarly in thrall to corporate flummery. Moores is a past master of being on the same page, singing from the same hymn sheet, cultures, consultants, advisors and support staff. Team England is a brand to be honed by values and soundbites. They want their cricketers to ‘execute their skillsets’ and ‘express themselves on the field’.

And crucially they share an attitude to the elephant in the room. Moores famously fell out with Pietersen before it was quite so fashionable to do so, in the process of losing this job the first time around. Though he maintains “I never fell out with Kevin, Kevin fell out with me,” his return effectively guarantees that KP will not get one.

Cook says Flower will have no influence on the rebuilding of the national team, though he has been using him as an advisor on captaincy since he retired, and will continue to do so. Moores also says he’ll use Flower as a sounding board.

Well pardon my pedantry, but that sounds a teensy bit like a position of influence to me.

From the shortlist they were working from, Moores may have been the best option. (Though Downton’s objection to Giles’ lack of experience is eyebrow-raising, from a man with such depth of experience in running the national side that six months ago he was a stockbroker.)

I just think they were working from the wrong shortlist.

I have nothing against Peter Moores. I’m sure he’s a lovely chap who is kind to children and animals. I’m also sure his intentions are honourable, and as an England cricket fan I wish him all the luck and success in the world.

But the ‘clean break’ and ‘fresh start’ and ‘new era’ we were promised, he very definitely is not.

- ends 494 words -

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