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Cricket news - Evolve with experience and move forward, the Moores way
While Moores' style may have changed over the years, his principles haven't
Five years ago, England lost to West Indies inside three days in Barbados. The locals in the crowd sung 'London Bridge is falling down' as their team romped to victory. It was an ignominious defeat at the end of a tumultuous winter which had included the awful 2015 World Cup campaign in Australia.
Peter Moores, England's head coach at the time, was due to attend a Barmy Army event on the third evening at the Barbados Yacht club, on Carlisle Beach in the south west of the island. It had long been arranged but had obviously been intended for the middle of the Test not its conclusion. Given the defeat and its manner, Moores could have bailed, opting for a quiet night in his hotel. Nobody would have blamed him. But Moores didn't bail on the Barmy Army. He fronted up.
"We played some good cricket on that trip, we were an emerging team," Moores tells Cricbuzz. "But we played terrible, we had a bad game. But I thought I am not go and skulk away and hide. Why won't I go there? Tell them exactly where I think we are at, what we are doing, the fact that it hurts us as much as it hurts them. Actually, it was good fun. And a few bevvies after, you feel a bit better for it too."
It is a story which says much about Moores and his values but his second spell as England coach came to an end a few weeks later.
There is no need to regurgitate the details of the Kevin Pietersen affair in his first stint or the poor World Cup and the "data" misquote in his second, but it's fair to say neither of Moores' terms as England's head coach went as well as he would have hoped.
Not that it was all bad. He introduced Jonathan Trott to international cricket, brought back Matt Prior and Graeme Swann from international exile, gave James Anderson and Stuart Broad the chance to establish themselves in New Zealand in 2008 and had a positive impact on Joe Root, who averaged 95 in Tests under Moores and has spoken highly of his influence.
Even so, it might be tempting to view Moores' coaching career through the prism of those disappointing spells with the national team. And of course that's part of any evaluation. Coaching domestically is very different from coaching internationally. But focusing on his time with England does his coaching abilities a significant disservice. After all, his record in county cricket is outstanding.
In all, Moores has won seven domestic trophies and two promotions to date across three separate counties. He has won the County Championship with two unfancied teams; the first at Sussex in 2003, the county's first ever Championship title, and the second at Lancashire in 2011, the Red Rose county's first outright win for 77 years. Since he was appointed Nottinghamshire head coach ahead of the 2017 season, they have won three white-ball trophies, including this season's T20 Blast, and developed into the foremost limited overs team in the country.
There have been disappointments too, notably two first-class relegations, the latest with Notts in 2019, but Moores has arguably been the most successful English domestic coach of the past 20 years. And yet his achievements are underappreciated. For some, Moores' lack of success with England puts an asterix against his coaching credentials and no amount of trophies in county cricket will change that.
By his own admission, Moores has evolved as a coach. He recognises the mistakes he made with England and brings them up unprompted. "I can look back on my first time with England and I pushed too hard," he says. "The younger players, they want you to drive it, they're new to it. But the more experienced players, I was new to international cricket and I don't think I respected enough where the lads had come from. Those who had been to a five-nil battering in Australia [in 2006/7], that's a really tough place to come from.
"As you move on as a coach, you start to understand more where lots of different people come from. Having kids helps. I've got a son who plays the game. That's taught me a lot about different ways of looking at the game. I think when you first start coaching you're trying to prove a point that you can coach. By now, I'm trying to help other people prove theirs."
A common theme that crops up when you speak to those who have worked with Moores is the energy and enthusiasm he brings to the job. That trait wasn't always appreciated during his time with England and Moores admits his energy "might have been a bit too full on" at the start of his coaching career. "You've got to try and balance that out for the people you're dealing with," he says.
He is a more relaxed figure now but he doesn't believe improvement can be achieved without enthusiasm and vitality. "Without an energy and a drive in you as a coach, you cant expect anyone else to have it," he says. "Energy means a positive approach to get things done and moving things forward. Well, without that nothing's going."
While Moores' style may have changed over the years, his principles haven't. His "fundamental" goal is to try and build belief in players. Not fake belief, but true belief gleaned from having done something enough times to know you can do it out in the middle on a consistent basis. "If you don't believe you can, you can't," he says. It takes time to do that, though, and it won't happen without trust being built between player and coach.
"People move because they let you challenge them," he says. "That only comes when they believe you're doing it in their best interests. My first job is to get to know the people you're dealing with and then you can build this feeling of trust and safety. Then, ok let's see if we can move things forward and make our lives better and have fun doing it."
There is a modern way in coaching of player-led development. Moores subscribes to that. When he works with a player, they will agree an area of improvement but the process of how that improvement happens is the player's. What Moores doesn't subscribe to, however, is putting everything in the players' court. Sometimes, a coach needs to give direct feedback.
"There are two places, reality and bullshit," he says. "Reality is where it is at. If somebody is not doing it right, I think as a coach you share your view. There's a modern way when it can be a bit bland. Asking the player what they think. If I think something is not good enough, I'm going to say listen I don't think that was good enough, I think you're better than that. That's only fair.
"I had one (conversation) with a player in one day cricket. I asked the question, 'When he faces the first ten balls what happens?' What we found was he wouldn't get a run. He'd get four or five dots and then he'd play a big shot. Sometimes he'd get four or a six and sometimes he wouldn't. The argument then was that you've loaded up all this pressure to have to play the big shot. Let's see if we can get you off strike in one or two balls then you wouldn't have to, would that help?
"I can look back on my first time with England and I pushed too hard," Peter Moores
"When you go into bat, what do you normally face? OK, medium pace and spin. So why are you practising against pace the whole time? Then you're piecing it together with him, you find some evidence and then they piece together how they play. He completely flipped his whole game on its head and he became really valuable to us."
Moores, who played 476 professional matches as a wicket-keeper batsman, started his coaching career as Sussex's player coach in 1998 but retired from playing halfway through that season. He let four byes go off the bowling of Mark Robinson in a game and he knew he was done. He had been watching Robinson's action to identify something that was a little off and totally missed the ball. It was either do both jobs badly or throw his hat fully into the coaching ring.
Four years later, Sussex had their first ever Championship win. The title was secured on day three of the final game against Leicestershire. Moores remembers an older gentleman - "he must have been 80" - telling him he had been going to Hove since he was eight and had been waiting for that moment. "You always look back on stuff and the moment of victory is special but what it leaves you with is more special," Moores says.
A stint as the head of the national academy in Loughborough followed, then England, Lancashire, England again and now Notts. Their struggles in first-class cricket over the past two seasons - they haven't won a game - have been frustrating but Moores saw positives this year when Notts registered the most bonus points of any county and outscored their opponents on first innings in each game, albeit without getting over the line.
He thinks they are getting there. "To the public you don't want to come across as just trying to find a positive because you're not," he says. "I can deal with the realities. I know having watched loads of players go through it, where they're playing at isn't a million miles off where they should be to become really good players."
Moores says he has never been particularly bothered about claiming the limelight or getting recognition but he does admit that legacy is important to him. Winning is important to him. "To be really good at anything, you have to have a certain level of ego," he says. "You have got to because it fuels you. Winning things is a great recognition for the team. So it's important to me because it's one of our benchmarks.
"But also, I love the fact that people I have coached, you still speak to them. You get phone calls. That, to me, is an unbelievable legacy. If somebody is still interested in your view and how you are getting on, and it's 15-20 years since you have worked with them, that's great fun."
Does Moores want another crack at the top level? His answer is not a yes. But it's not a no, either. "It's an interesting one that," he says. "Honestly, I have always worked the same way. I get totally immersed in where I am at that moment and whatever I am doing. Part of what I said about energy, a lot of it is total immersion into what you are doing.
"I have been fortunate that things have come along for me all the way through my career as a coach. I have always been ambitious. I have enjoyed the different challenges, enjoyed coaching different people. I will see where things take me. I never quite know where I am going to be in a certain amount of time because I think if I did, it would take the edge off what I am doing at the moment."
What happens in the future remains to be seen, then. But what is not in doubt is what Moores has already achieved as a coach. His two stints with England were disappointments but his other accomplishments are significant. More significant than he gets credit for. He is still winning trophies, still developing players. He is more relaxed now and more experienced, a better coach than he's ever been.
And still one of the best coaches English cricket has.
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