Peter Moores prepared to alter his management technique ahead of new era with England
Moores infamously fell out with former captains Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen in his previous reign as head coach but is prepared to change his man-management techniques
Friday 16 May 2014
Peter Moores had a mantra back in 2008 which found less than universal favour with some senior players - most notably successive England captains Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen.
If the coach has learned from the chastening experience of his first tenure - and he and others insist he has - one of the lessons must surely be the importance of a harmonious working relationship with his captain.
To that end, perhaps, Moores appears to have modified his man-management manual and coaching strategy.
Where the strains were once reportedly of fitness, fitness and more fitness - to a general theme of 'my way' - alongside prescriptive, statistically-based methods, there is a new tune for 2014.
The remedy, after a uniquely unsuccessful Ashes winter under Andy Flower as team director, has the look of evolution rather than revolution - allied to the encouragement of freedom of expression.
Moores is surely right to advocate only gradual change in playing personnel - after all, there has surely been enough already in management structure as the England and Wales Cricket Board has reacted to the Ashes whitewashing and other 2013/14 embarrassments.
As the new coach seeks a winning formula against Sri Lanka and India this summer, and a period of much-needed progress and stability with captain Alastair Cook, he is sensibly tempering calls for root-and-branch reorganisation on the field.
"We certainly don't want change for change's sake," Moores said at this month's launch of England's new Waitrose sponsorship deal.
"We are not looking to change everything - what we are trying to create is the right balance of some great experience we don't want to lose and some freshness."
It will indeed be a balancing act to distance himself and his team from the miserable last knockings of the Flower regime, without also ditching happier connections to an otherwise highly-successful era on the watch of his predecessor and colleague.
It was Flower who emerged from the chaos of Moores' and Pietersen's sackings at the start of 2009 to forge the beginnings of three successive Ashes series victories - not to mention England's rise to the top of the International Cricket Council rankings.
It is Flower too, re-employed in his new mentoring role for the ECB at Loughborough, who doubtless had his say at some point as to the identity of the new head coach.
Moores spent the intervening years winning an overdue county championship title for Lancashire, then being relegated and re-promoted.
Following previous success with Sussex, whose wait for a title had been even longer, he feels re-energised for another crack at international cricket.
"With Alastair Cook and me, we are building a new relationship - and it feels exciting.
"We want to build an environment and a way of playing that fits the new team."
At Moores' own instigation, his other righthand man is Paul Farbrace - a slightly higher-profile version of previous incumbent Richard Halsall.
As he assembles a management group he knows well, admires and trusts, it has become clear too that he is on message with the ECB's new ethos - maybe he even delivered it himself - that their team must continually seek to be the pride of England.
Under Flower, the numbers of management and backroom staff became a thorny issue only when the team suddenly started to lose.
Moores said: "My basic rule of thumb when you are preparing, a big resource of coaches is fine.
"But when you are actually playing you have to be careful there aren't too many people around, because the players forget to connect to each other.
"The most important thing is that you play as a team.
"Eleven blokes go and play against the opposition - coaches don't play the game.
"So you don't want the player connecting to a coach or multiple coaches rather than his team mates - the job is that the players unite to play the game."
The early signs are that he will not be fast-tracking new playing personnel.
When he does begin to effect changes, though, he will be anxious to encourage self-belief - if perhaps not quite the maverick tendencies which eventually cost Pietersen the remainder of his international career.
"If I had a message to a young player it would be 'come with your own mind'.
"Imagine what you could try and do, and then go and do it."
That will happen, Moores hopes, in an environment mindful of previous blind alleys - his own and others' - and open to new avenues.
"You look at everything to see if it's still in balance and redress any imbalances.
"If it has become too 'sciency', you wouldn't want to go all the way back to just gut feeling - you would sit somewhere in the middle and pay attention to both.
"Food, having a beer, relaxing - you balance them all.
"Crikey - they are normal people and they have to able to enjoy themselves.
"They don't want to eat boiled chicken every day."
Moores' players can expect a more inclusive diet than that these days - or at least that is the plan as England's much-anticipated new era dawns.
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