Peter Moores faces the sack as England coach regardless of how the team perform on their tour of the West Indies.
Paul Downton’s dismissal has left Moores, the man he appointed, in a vulnerable position as England prepare for a three-match Test series that starts in Antigua on Monday.
Following the removal of Downton, head selector James Whitaker is thought to be on extremely thin ice, along with fellow panel members Angus Fraser and Mick Newell. Ahead of the England and Wales Cricket Board meeting at Lord’s, the decision to fire Downton is believed to have been unopposed.
Chairman-elect Colin Graves officially takes the reins on 15 May but his influence, along with that of new chief executive Tom Harrison, is already being felt in the corridors of power.
There has been confusion at the heart of the ECB since Graves suggested early last month there might be a way back for exiled batsman Kevin Pietersen. Even when it became clear that Downton was in trouble, ECB officials were briefing that he retained the full confidence of the incoming regime. Clearly, that was not the case.
Downton has paid the price for England’s dismal performance at the World Cup and Moores may yet suffer the same fate, too.
Moores might have gone already had Jason Gillespie, the Yorkshire coach who has an excellent relationship with Graves, wanted the job now. Yet the Australian, who led Yorkshire to the County Championship last summer after Graves appointed him in 2011, has publicly been lukewarm about taking on the England role.
Gillespie’s current plan is to stay at Yorkshire and coach Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash, Australia’s Twenty20 tournament, this winter. The 39-year-old might also wonder about the wisdom of taking the England job now, ahead of a summer in which they face tough series against New Zealand and Australia.
Last month, Moores held a constructive meeting with Harrison but he remains under pressure.
While Graves and Harrison would face little opposition if they dispensed with the selectors, some at board level believe it might not be necessary to replace Downton. The statement confirming Downton’s departure also revealed the ECB plan to hire a “director of England cricket” - as opposed to the “managing director of England cricket” post that Downton held. The new role, for which former captains Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss are in the frame, will have “a clear focus on delivering a world-class performance environment for all formats”.
Yet there are those on the board who feel that simply hiring another man in a blazer will do little to solve England’s problems. It is a classic reflex of English cricket: when in doubt, give another job to a suit. While Vaughan or Strauss would have more credibility than Downton, adding another layer of management between the team and the board might further muddy the waters.
Pietersen, meanwhile, waits in the background. Downton’s dismissal removes an obstacle to his return and he will know that with no Downton, and probably no Whitaker before long, his chances of playing for England again look far rosier.Reuse content