The Next Generation: Moores builds on the Marsh inheritance

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The Independent Online

Peter Moores, who has replaced Marsh as director of the National Academy - now recycled as the National Cricket Centre - does not have a moustache. It is hard to envisage him lambasting (in public at any rate) the next crop of England's finest.

But Moores has two things in common with his predecessor: a background as a professional wicketkeeper and an unfettered zeal for the game. Moores' career, though spanning 15 years and more than 450 matches of all county varieties, was not as auspicious as that of Marsh. It is to be hoped he is more successful in addressing the decline in the country's (indeed the world's) wicketkeeping.

His passion is remarkably similar. Like Marsh, he wants his talented charges to make the most of themselves. Sometimes he can talk in coaching-speak and fall over his words in his enthusiasm to get them out, but the message is unmistakable.

"To compare Rod and me would be unfair," Moores said at the NCC in Loughborough last week. "We're different people. My style will be to create opportunity, but you need structure and discipline in place as a sportsman. I don't see it as my job to get you up in the morning and make you want to play for England.

"I think motivation comes from being passionate about something, and I want to create a fantastic environment where it's buzzing," he added. Moores should be listened to carefully, not least because of his success at Sussex, who won the County Championship for the first time under his guidance, but also because he might be in pole position to succeed Duncan Fletcher as England coach.

The Academy has been indubitably successful since Marsh received its first intake at Adelaide in November 2001. Of the England squads touring Pakistan this winter, eight of the 17 players involved passed through the Academy. There will be drop-outs along the way - whither Chris Schofield and Derek Kenway from the first intake? - but Marsh was careful to warn at the time that only two or three a year would go on to play for England regularly.

Moores clearly sees the all-singing, all-dancing Loughborough establishment as a centre for élite cricketers of all ages. Each of the 17 who are either full- or part-time students there this winter will have individual programmes devised, tailor-made to suit their requirements.

"It's not simply about where they are now, it's about where they might need to be in 12 or 18 months' time," said Moores. "The players have to do some reflection themselves, but part of our job is to add to core skills.

"So let's say a player gets into the squad and he is throwing at the stumps in practice and hitting twice out of 10 times. He then goes into a World Cup semi-final, has Brian Lara halfway down the pitch and misses. There's no point in him kicking the ground and thinking he was unlucky, because there was an 80 per cent chance that he would miss. That is what we've got to spot, and make players more complete."

Gareth Batty, one of this year's Academy squad who has been there before, is relishing the prospect. "I know what I want to do individually: work on my wrong 'un, which I feel is almost there, and develop my stock off-spinner."

If there has been a complaint in the past, it is that training has not been geared to specific requirements. This bunch will not be able to claim that. Nor should they make the error of seeing the amenable Moores as a soft touch. "You have got to be straight with things like discipline, because people have got to know where they are," he said. "We're in a performance-based industry. If you don't perform you're in the wrong job."

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