Peter Moores: Moores the merrier
The former England coach has had job offers aplenty but, after leading Lancashire to their first title in 77 years, he is happy to stay put, he tells Jon Culley
Monday 09 April 2012
It is three years since he was sacked as England coach, three years in which the sour taste left by the circumstances in which he lost his job has had time to fade, to be replaced by a much more agreeable one with Lancashire's 77-year quest for cricket's County Championship finally ended. Yet, even after winning his second domestic title, Peter Moores will not pretend he does not miss being a key figure on the highest stage.
Reminders are not easily avoided at Old Trafford. Recent years may have seen its status under threat but, after 128 years hosting Test matches, there is no eroding its history. It is a place to evoke memories on a spring afternoon and while it is not exactly in tranquil repose the day we meet, the ongoing redevelopment of the ground creates an equally potent sense of ambition.
"Do I miss international cricket?" Moores says, repeating the question. "You miss bits of it. I don't keep thinking 'I wish I was still there' because I've got stuck into this job. But there is something brilliant about walking into a full stadium on a day when you know there is something on it, the excitement of the build-up and so on.
"I loved my time with England. I'd have liked it to have carried on longer at the time but it didn't and I've moved on. It doesn't mean there isn't a period of time that it takes you to get over something like that, but the more you do something else the easier it becomes."
Had Moores been out of work long he might look back now with different emotions. Within five weeks of the rift with Kevin Pietersen that effectively forced him out at Lord's, he was back in cricket as head coach with Lancashire, who were more interested in the success he had achieved before his England tenure in guiding Sussex to the Championship for the first time.
"I was lucky. For one thing, this is a great club. Secondly, it was a good time to come because they were looking for a slightly different approach, which maybe I offered, and we had a set of players who were keen and hungry to get better. The three years I've coached here have been my most enjoyable."
So enjoyable, in fact, that he has signed up for another two, knocking on the head speculation that a high-profile job abroad might now tempt him away. "I've never said categorically that I won't [go back] but I decided that, for the family and where we are, that it was a good time to go back into county cricket for a while.
"In international cricket, the challenge with families is that you are dictated to by the schedule. The frustration comes not because you don't love your job but because you might have been away for two months, you come home for three weeks and then you have to go away again at a time you did not want to because you wanted to be there for your kids and your wife.
"You never complain because it is a fantastic job but when the the job says you've got to go away it gets a bit tougher.
"We've bought a place in Knutsford but we are keeping on our house in Leicestershire because the kids are at school. My daughter is 18 and finished this year but my son, Tom, is 15. We've moved them before and we didn't want to do it again."
Staying is more than simply a matter of pragmatism. There is a strong emotional pull, too, one that existed even before the title was won. Born in December 1962 as the second youngest of eight children, Moores grew up in Macclesfield, a Cheshire market town but barely 20 miles from Old Trafford.
His father, a painter and decorator, did not run a car but Peter and his brothers would sometimes take the train to Manchester to watch the Lancashire team of Clive Lloyd, Farokh Engineer and Frank Hayes, whose ascent to the England team from his Preston roots made him a hero for the young Moores.
"It was a sporty family," Moores said. "I got my love of cricket from my oldest brother, Tony. With four brothers you've got a ready-made half cricket team or half football team. You are outside a lot and we'd go to the local playground and play football or cricket all the time. We had mates all around and it was just your normal upbringing.
"We had a great schoolmaster at the King's School in Macclesfield called Ian Wilson, who had such fantastic enthusiasm for the game that if we wanted to net until seven at night he would stay behind." One of the brothers, Steven, who played for Cheshire, is now coach at the school. Moores' father has passed on but his mother, Winifred, still lives in the town, as do all his brothers.
Peter played for the King's First XI from 14, keeping wicket and scoring runs so prolifically he fell only 20 short of 1,000 in his final season. It earned him a trial at Old Trafford, which, while unsuccessful, did not dilute his allegiance to the county. "I didn't realise how strong it was for me until I was interviewed for the coach's job and I drove away thinking, 'Wow, what a lot of fun that would be'. You know the history of the club, you've been associated with it, and there's that great carrot of trying to win the Championship."
Perhaps also there was a desire to make the mark as coach he had wanted to make as a player. His talent was not in dispute when he turned up hoping to impress manager Jack Bond but Lancashire already had a relatively young wicketkeeper in Chris Maynard and had also taken on Graeme Fowler, who was handy with the gloves as well.
Moores admits he "panicked a bit" about what he might do, wondering if he should set his sights on a teaching career, but the offer of a place on the MCC groundstaff steered him back towards cricket, and ultimately Worcestershire and Sussex.
It gives him pleasure now, as Lancashire prepare to begin their title defence against Sussex at Liverpool on Thursday, that 10 of the players who contributed to last season's historic triumph – and who began the 2012 season by beating MCC in the four-day, pink-ball warm-up in Abu Dhabi – are Lancashire lads who were given a chance, representing Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Burnley, Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham and Preston.
"It was a factor," he said. "They have developed together and have a great bond and they understand what it means to the club to win, while they are young enough for it not to be a burden.
"And the public can connect with the players because they have come from local clubs, they are real people. One of the advantages we have and Yorkshire should have is that we have a strong league set-up and you can balance that with the academy. If you get out into the leagues you are playing against blokes who are good players and playing real cricket, where you start to get some understanding of the game.
"The most satisfying thing is that it has been a collective effort, a coming together of all the support staff, the coaches and the medical people, and a group of players who take responsibility for themselves. We aim to send players on to the park feeling they have control over what they do, who make their own decisions. It has been helped by the fact that we have had a bit of adversity, with not so much money and a smaller squad, but through this everyone at the club has come together and said, 'Let's fight our corner'.
"We had the weather with us, which has not always been the case. People talk about Liverpool being an advantage, but the fact is that if you play four days anywhere the best side is usually going to win. Glen Chapple was outstanding as captain not only in the way he performed but in that he did not complicate things. And some good young players came through, guys like Steven Parry and Simon Kerrigan, while others such as Karl Brown and Kyle Hogg saw an opportunity to make a first-team place their own and took it."
And the fact that, with the exception of Jimmy Anderson, none caught the eye of the England selectors only augurs well for the future, in his opinion.
"It can be sometimes when a team wins the Championship that there is a sense of the journey being complete but we've young guys who are asking if they can push on, maybe get into the England Lions, and others, such as Paul Horton and Stephen Moore, who see they can develop their game further. So while we will have to play well [to retain the title] there is enough hunger."
Enough hunger for Moores to have turned down job offers in order to stay. "You make quite a lot of contacts in the England job and I have been spoken to about a few things, but there are times when you want a bit of stability. If an opportunity comes along in the future, I'll see. But for the moment it was right to stay, for me and the county. We are a good fit and we are building something."
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