On the Front Foot: Moores the merrier ever since those dark days with England


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The Independent Online

Nearly three years ago, Peter Moores was unceremoniously dumped as coach of England. As far as anybody could see, his main, if not only, mistake was to have laid down a strategy for the team which did not find favour with the captain, Kevin Pietersen, who was also deposed in the fall-out from their disagreement.

They were dark days for English cricket, now thankfully well and truly gone. Moores soon pitched up as coach at Lancashire. He has maintained a resolute and dignified silence on the issue which led to his removal and never shown a trace of bitterness. Not once has he criticised Pietersen, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the other players. Though he must have wondered why the hell it was all happening, he simply took it on the chin and got on with life. Last Thursday, he became the first coach to take two different counties to the Championship title. Not just any counties either. Under Moores' guidance, Sussex were champions for the first time in 2003 after 113 failed attempts. Lancashire received the pennant following a gap of 77 years, which had seemed likely never to be bridged.

There were plenty of other people who deserved both triumphs but in both cases the common factor and the chief architect was Moores. He created the platform from which such things could be achieved. He is one of the most amenable of men, approachable, enthusiastic, hard-working, knowledgeable. If he has a fault it is that he couches a lot of stuff in coach-speak, a language slightly more difficult to learn than mandarin to those without the necessary ear. It is difficult to judge his time with England because it was a work in progress when Pietersen decided it was not progressing enough. But Moores was behind the recall after seven years of Graeme Swann, the selection of Matt Prior and the promotion to new-ball bowler of Jimmy Anderson, and look where they are now. Of course, it was a team thing that took Sussex and Lancashire to their titles but it was Moores who made never and 77 years seem like reasons to attain success, not continued failure.

India lacking spice

What to make of India? They lost eight matches to nil against England in all forms of the game on the tour that ended on Friday, yet appeared always as if they did not have a care in the world. MS Dhoni, their imperturbable captain, looked distinctly unaffected. Sometimes it is as if they are removed from the rest of the cricket world. A case in point was last Monday night when they failed to arrive at the ICC annual awards dinner despite staying at a hotel 10 minutes away (odd not least because Dhoni was the recipient of the Spirit of Cricket award). Their compatriot Shahrad Pawar, the ICC president, left as soon as he could. Perhaps too much cricket is numbing India's senses. They went on a significant tour of South Africa, played in the World Cup and the Indian Premier League, went to the Caribbean, then came to England, are going home (many of them) to play in the Champions League, then receive West Indies and, still before Christmas, go to Australia. All games must merge into one and become meaningless.

The toss is one-sided

India lost all five tosses in the one-day series against England. But that was barely the half of it. Alastair Cook has now won nine in a row, easily an England record. One more in Hyderabad next month and he will equal the world record held jointly by Arjuna Ranatunga and Andy Flower, from whom he must be taking tips.

Jonny come soon

It will not be long, if the spectacular events of Friday night are anything to measure by, before Jonny Bairstow plays Test cricket. His commanding 41 from 21 balls was the stuff of dreams. When he plays, he will join his father David, who won four caps from 1979-81. They would be the 13th father-son combination to play Tests for England and the fifth since 1997.