Evening Standard

Standing tall: Peter Moores has led Lancashire to a historic triumph and has not ruled out returning to the international game one day. Image courtesy of Evening Standard

Given the way Peter Moores’s England reign ended, it is hardly surprising Kevin Pietersen has not been among the well‑wishers offering their congratulations following Lancashire’s first County Championship title in 77 years.

After all, it was Pietersen’s “he goes or I go” ultimatum which led to Moores being sacked as England coach and his own axing as national skipper in January 2009.

Just one month later, Moores was appointed Lancashire coach and it has taken him only two years to end the county’s title drought.

“I have not heard from Kevin since we won but one of the nicest things was coming back to Old Trafford and meeting a builder,” Moores says. “He must have been 60, covered in plaster and he just wanted to come and say, ‘Well done’. That meant a lot to me.”

This might be a neat sidestep by the 48-year-old on the controversy that rocked English cricket but it reflects a philosophical attitude to the coach-captain relationship.

“They’re like marriages in some ways. They take time, you have fall-outs and you try to work them through. With me and Kevin, it didn’t work out.”

So given the Pietersen-Moores marriage was not made in heaven, surely the couple had blazing rows?

“Not in the way it was portrayed. But it was very stressful for all because if you remember it was the time of the Mumbai bomb explosion. We’d gone there with high hopes on the back of a 4-0 win against South Africa in the one-dayers. But India is a tough place. They played really well and it didn’t quite work out [England lost 5-0]. And then we had to play Test matches after the bombing, which was tough.”

Then came Pietersen’s public criticism of Moores in which he referred to a situation which was “not healthy” adding pointedly that “everybody has to have the same aims and pull in the same direction”.

Within a week, both men were out of their England jobs.

“I did not know he was going to say that but once he did, it kicked off and it all happened very quickly,” Moores says. “You move on. The Lancashire job came at the right time. A whole new set of challenges and people to deal with, that moves you forward rather than sitting there wondering.”

Yet since then, as England under his successor Andy Flower have won their first international trophy – the Twenty20 World Cup – and topped the Test rankings for the first time, Moores admits he has wondered what might have been had he stayed in charge.

“Well, you can’t not think about it,” he says. “It would be some bloke who doesn’t occasionally look back and think: well, what if this or what if that?

“I’m pleased by the fact it’s gone how we imagined it. I wouldn’t dream of taking any credit away from Andy Strauss or Andy Flower but I enjoyed the fact that I brought in a lot of the people who are there.”

These include Flower, who joined as assistant coach, and spin coach Mushtaq Ahmed, while Moores gave debuts to Stuart Broad, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann and Jonathan Trott.

Those players have all had key roles in England reaching the top of the Test summit, a feat which was achieved with the 4-0 thrashing of India this summer. The way they dismantled the tourists led to comparisons with the ruthless Australians, who dominated the game since the Nineties.

However, Moores says: “Rather than being Australian this is an Englishness that’s coming out of a good English system. England are playing to the best of English qualities. English people are passionate about playing for their country. We’re all very resilient as people and there is a huge competitive drive now. It is all a very good thing.”

Moores talks about passion and drive but he has often been portrayed as a coach who is heavily focused on facts and figures.

“I’m not wedded to the computer,” he insists. “I do stats because it’s what balances gut feeling. I like talking to players but you’ve got to see how things are in reality because these are hard and cold facts. That gives you a better perspective.”

He then gives an insight into how he sees his role.

“Coaching is a completely different concept to how it’s often portrayed. It has got nothing to do about technique. It’s about creating flow and developing the person. Sport is a mind, body, spirit thing.”

Just the sort of sentiments expressed by Tim Gallwey, the American coaching guru, author of a number of books on inner coaching – Inner Golf, Inner Tennis – and sometime coach to Andre Agassi and Greg Norman. Moores, a former wicketkeeper who moved into coaching in 1997 after captaining Sussex, has read all of Gallwey’s books.

“He came on a tour of England 10 years ago and his perspective on coaching resonated with me,” Moores explains. “All millionaires may be intelligent but because Einstein’s got more intelligence, it doesn’t mean he’s going to be a millionaire. The most talented player doesn’t always become the best performing cricketer.

“Alastair Cook is one of the best performing cricketers but you might watch somebody else hit a ball and say, he hits it better than Cook.

“Coaching is helping to raise a player’s awareness, build his belief. Without belief you can’t play. Doubt is the biggest killer of everything. So, as coach, I have to find a way of getting on top of that and nailing it.”

Pietersen with his famous self-belief clearly did not need Moores to nail anything but the coach can point to the fact that, in the last decade, his methods have seen two historic underperforming counties win the championship.

Moores sees many similarities in the way he guided Sussex to their first championship in 2003 and Lancashire to glory. He says: “I think 2003 was a bit like this year. Both counties had a very small staff, 18, and there were some significant performances and players with belief.”

For Moores, the key to Sussex’s triumph was signing Mushtaq. “Not only did he get wickets but he brought us belief. I learned a lot from Mushi about the power of belief and intention. He’d been through a journey.”

This journey saw the Pakistan leg-spinner named in the 2000 report by Judge Qayyum into match-fixing as having links with illegal bookmakers, with the judge concluding Mushtaq, who was fined £3,700, should be “kept under close watch and not be given any office of responsibility [selection or captaincy] in the team or on the board”.

But Moores recalls a lunch with Mushtaq at Al Frescos on the Brighton seafront, before he signed him. “He said to me categorically, ‘Listen, I’ve found Allah, I love the game of cricket. If you pick me I’ll get you 100 wickets in a season and we’ll win the championship’. He was true to his word.

“You often need a catalyst and at that stage Mushi was a catalyst to let other things start the fire at Sussex.”

If there was no one like Mushtaq to ignite Lancashire it was, curiously, the lack of cash that Moores feels was the spur. Money was so short that instead of going abroad for pre-season training, Lancashire went to the artificial nets at Bowden Cricket Club, just down the road from Old Trafford. “We had no money to sign players,” Moores says.

That didn’t prevent Lancashire bringing in Sri Lankan Farveez Maharoof, who agreed to play for virtually nothing because he wanted to get back into the national team. The all-rounder achieved that early in the summer, playing in Sri Lanka’s Test series in England, before focusing on Lancashire’s title quest.

“Farveez said, ‘Listen, I’ll come and play for you pretty much for free but with accommodation, whatever’. He became a real key member of the squad. Sometimes when things are stacked against you, players get stuck in and make the most of it.”

Moores is well aware that Lancashire’s triumph runs against the grain of how to achieve success in modern sport, as the money that has revived his favourite club Manchester City shows. But Moores, who paraded the championship trophy at Eastlands, feels the county’s success also reflects a balancing of youth and experience.

He says: “Sixteen out of 18 were Lancastrians and we had a young team, a lot under 30, quite a few under 25. In Glen Chapple, at 37, we had a captain with 20 seasons in the game. The mixture of Glen’s experience with the exuberance of the youngsters was a good combination.”

Macclesfield-born Moores, who grew up worshipping Lancashire favourites such as Clive Lloyd, Farokh Engineer, Peter Lever and Frank Hayes, is almost certain to stay at the county beyond February, when his deal presently runs out. And, while he denies his success there is redemption for his England debacle, he has not given up ambitions for another bash in the international arena.

“As an international coach the schedules are so hectic, the sacrifices you make are not an easy fit with families, as Andy Flower will know now. My daughter, Natalie, is 18, Tom is 15 and county cricket gives me a bit more time because it’s a six-month fixture list rather than 12. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to have another go at it. But at the moment I’m very happy doing what I’m doing.”


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