Moores's England future in the balance

Peter Moores is set to find out later this week whether he will still be England’s coach, according to reports in the British press on Monday.

Moores’s relationship with England captain Kevin Pietersen has broken down to the point where it now seems all but impossible the pair can work together on the upcoming tour of the West Indies. The squad leave England on January 21.

Pietersen is understood to believe that Moores lacks the tactical nous required of an international coach.

Worryingly for Moores, speculation has already started regarding a successor, with English county Kent’s former South Africa coach Graham Ford, who worked alongside South Africa-born Pietersen at KwaZulu-Natal, the frontrunner to take over on a full-time basis.

Meanwhile, former Test spinner Ashley Giles, now an England selector and a former Test teammate of Pietersen, is being touted as a stop-gap option for the West Indies tour.

England managing director Hugh Morris spent the weekend trying to broker a compromise but that appears an increasingly forlorn hope.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive David Collier is the man who will decide Moores’s future.

So far, the ECB has refused to comment on the speculation engulfing Moores.

But Pietersen gave credence to the rumours that have been swirling for some time by telling Sunday’s News of the World, the paper for which he is a columnist: “This situation is not healthy, we have to make sure it is settled as soon as possible and certainly before we fly off to the West Indies.

“Everybody has to have the same aims and pull in the same direction for the good of the England team.”

The Ashes are up for grabs again this year, and with Australia no longer looking invincible after series defeats by India and South Africa, ECB chiefs will want this row settled long before Ricky Ponting’s men arrive in England.

Former England captain Nasser Hussain told Sky Sports there could be only one winner in the current dispute.

“If you are asking me who is more important, Kevin Pietersen or Peter Moores, then there is only one winner and that’s Kevin Pietersen; that’s what he knows and that’s why he’s probably flexing his muscles,” he said.

Hussain added: “It’s absolutely not ideal in an Ashes year for the public to know the captain and the coach are not gelling, not getting on, but more importantly the players now know.

“At any meeting, whether it be before the Ashes or before the West Indies, when Moores speaks the players will be thinking, ‘KP doesn’t buy into this, or KP thinks this is a load of rubbish. Who are we going to listen to?’”

Star batsman Pietersen, who became captain in August following the resignation of Michael Vaughan, is understood never to have been the greatest fan of Moores, regarded as a “clipboard” coach by some England players.

A former Sussex wicket-keeper, Moores—who has come up through the county and ECB systems—never played international cricket himself.

That need not be an insurmountable hurdle but Moores’s task was made harder by having to follow Duncan Fletcher.

The former Zimbabwe all-rounder, who improved England’s batsmen against spin bowling, had strong views on personnel and tactics, which were reflected in the make-up of the team and the way they played.

Moores is a much more low-profile figure and it has been hard to see how, since Fletcher resigned in April 2007, he has made the members of the England side into better players.

In Moores’s 22 Tests as coach, England have won eight, lost six and drawn eight.

But seven of those victories came against New Zealand and the West Indies, two teams below England in the world rankings, while a win over South Africa, in Pietersen’s first match in full charge, only took place after the series had been lost.

Moores is on a one-year rolling contract and any attempt to sack him could cost the ECB as much as £250 000.

But that could be a small price to pay if a contented Pietersen is able to inspire England to Ashes success.—AFP


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