September 18, 2007

English cricket

Will anyone mourn the coach's departure?

Martin Williamson

Mark Greatbatch’s time at Warwickshire has been far from happy, and with his contract about to be ended with a year to run, it would be easy to dismiss his departure as just another example of someone jettisoned because of the failure of his team.

But George Dobell of the Birmingham Post has followed his two years as coach closely, and he reports that this is no simple case of a county finding a scapegoat.

It was his fault that Mark Wagh left. It was his fault that Moeen Ali left. It was his fault that he alienated senior players like Michael Powell and Brown who had only the best interests of the club at heart. And it was his fault that the side played unattractive cricket. For Greatbatch distrusts flair. Supporters had neither success nor entertainment to savour.

It didn't help that his style contrasted so much with his predecessor's. The calm detachment of John Inverarity was replaced by a brooding menace in the dressing-room as Greatbatch's desire to succeed sometimes manifested itself in sullen anxiety.

His passion was untamed. He sulked when he lost; shouted when he was angry. Instead of lifting the dressing-room in trying times, he became the chief mourner; the source of negativity.

Perhaps Dobell’s most damning observation is saved until the end, and it raises questions as to where Greatbatch goes from here.

There will, generally, be a sense of relief in the dressing-room. At the end of the 2006 season, Greatbatch was detested by several players; by mid-2007, he was irrelevant to nearly all of them. He offered little hands-on coaching and had little that was inspirational to give in terms of personal example or communication skills.

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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