County cricket April 26, 2014

Moores exit blessing in disguise?

Judging by the reaction of the Lancashire players and staff, the Peter Moores exit felt less like a managerial departure and more like a romantic split that was always on the cards

He's out of our lives.
He's out of our lives.
And I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
And I don't know whether to live or die.
And it cuts like a knife.
He's out of our lives.

Judging by the reaction of the Lancashire players and staff, the Peter Moores exit felt less like a managerial departure and more like a romantic split that was always on the cards. You would be forgiven for thinking that on the drive home after the Warwickshire game few of the players were listening to MJ power ballads, replacing a few lyrics here and there to accommodate "Mooresy".

With a coaching philosophy not too dissimilar from Jose Mourinho, Moores developed a bond with the players that enabled him to surgically extract every strand of talent present in their DNA. Kyle Hogg, Karl Brown, Tom Smith, Steven Croft, Paul Horton were just some of the players whose performance levels escalated under his watchful tutelage. High praise from the playing and support staff is therefore highly warranted.

The reaction from the fans however has been more sporadic. The euphoria of Moores delivering the Championship title they had waited 77 years for in 2011 was dampened by embarrassing relegation the following season. Last year's successful promotion was not just predicted but demanded by the Red Rose faithful. Had Moores delivered the title for the second time this season, words such as legacy may have been used more unanimously. As it is, there will always be a section of fans who will consider that 2011 title something of a perfect storm. Success that came with the club under serious threat of bankruptcy and players resultantly performing like cornered tigers. Be that as it may, deliver he did and for that, every Lancashire fan owes him a piece of their cricketing heart.

Of course, only time will tell whether the foundations laid down by Moores come to fruition after his departure. Early signs however suggest that life back in the top flight may not be so rosy. Lancashire have started the campaign with a defeat and a losing draw despite having Jimmy Anderson in the ranks.

Whilst his well sought after services will be appreciated for a lot longer than fans are used to at this time of year, it is the batting ranks that could do with bolstering. Having passed 250 only once in four innings thus far, with the exception of Horton, Prince and Smith the batsmen have found it hard to adjust to life in the top flight.

That will have to change very quickly if the burden of winning games is to be lifted from what is, yet again, an exceptional bowling attack led by the ever present Glen Chapple. Considering his almost innate ability to push the boundaries of what is possible, it would be no surprise if he succeeded in his new player-coach role. Ashley Giles may still be in the running as a potential replacement and has more experience but the level of respect and admiration the players have for the Lancashire skipper is unparalleled.

Moores departure also potentially brings the likes of Gary Yates and John Stanworth into more prominent roles. Being in charge of the 2nd XI and the Youth Academy respectively the two have worked tirelessly behind the scenes for over two decades. The beneficial working relationship with Moores will have strengthened their resolve to continue to produce future Freddy Flintoffs and Jimmy Andersons of this world.

One such product of that youth system, Simon Kerrigan fired a timely reminder of his pedigree to the outgoing England coach with figures of 4 for 38, including the coveted wicket of Ian Bell. If Kerrigan continues to bowl like that, he may well be making a return to the Test side before the year is out. If that happens, he will certainly have his coach to thank for it. Having previously referred to Peter Moores as the "cricketer whisperer", his ability to breathe life into a player with low morale was never more evident than with the handling of Kerrigan after his testing debut against Australia last summer.

But perhaps his biggest achievement, which may benefit Lancashire for years to come, will be Moores' working relationship with Chapple. At the end of the 2009 season instead of giving him the captaincy and allowing him to blood the next generation of bowlers, bitter rivals Yorkshire released a heartbroken 32-year-old Mathew Hoggard after 15 years of service. Such fate could easily have fallen on Chapple had Moores decided to take that road. After all Chapple was three years older at the time, an age not many fast bowlers contemplate retirement. No one with a pragmatic outlook would have begrudged Moores had he sidelined Chapple.

Instead, not only did he keep faith in the Lancashire stalwart as a bowler, he saw leadership qualities overlooked by his predecessors. Five years on, not only is Chapple still bowling as well as ever, he has developed into a fine leader: one that can not only lead Lancashire in a playing and coaching capacity but perhaps even England in ten years time. Leaders create leaders not followers. Perhaps Moores departure came at the right time. Perhaps the perfect storm was an appetizer for a more stable and positive climate change at Old Trafford. Only time will tell, but for now Lancashire fans will have to switch mantras. From Moores the Merrier to Less is Moore.

Rana Malook writes about cricket and music and once harboured dreams of appearing on ESPNcricinfo as a player until his back folded like warm laundry at the age of 19. He tweets here

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