Diligent Moores deserves second chance
It was probably fitting that Peter Moores' second coming as England's head coach should come at Easter. While it would be stretching a point to suggest his career has risen from the dead, to have been appointed to this position by the ECB only five years after having been sacked from it represents a remarkable renaissance. Usually these things only happen in Pakistan.
Moores deserves his second chance. It would have been easy for him to sulk after his sacking at the end of 2008. It would have been easy for him to take the money on offer for interviews and book deals and spill the beans on the events that led to his downfall. How tempted he must have been to unleash his frustration at his treatment and his portrayal as an out-of-his-depth control freak.
Instead he went back to work. Diligently, professionally and with more than a touch of class, he maintained a dignified silence and concentrated simply on the job in hand. Leading Lancashire to the elusive County Championship title in 2011 with a relatively modest team was a tremendous achievement. He is now reaping the rewards, not just for his success as a coach, but for his loyalty and his silence.
Those qualities are, rightly or wrongly, highly valued at the ECB. As the example of Kevin Pietersen illustrates, genius is fine, but the ECB prefers predictability. Those that rock the boat will not be tolerated. Whether that means they will ever reach their potential is debatable; most of the great teams found a way to accommodate troubled geniuses. The example of Shane Warne springs to mind.
Moores made mistakes the first time he had this job. Perhaps in a desire to stamp his authority on the team, he pushed too hard, too soon and, managing the side through a transitional phase, ran into resistance from senior players who saw their position threatened. He may well encounter similar problems the second time around. He has not been dealt the strongest of hands and patience will be required if he is to be successful. The 2015 schedule, in particular, looks desperately tough.
He deserved credit for the groundwork that went into contributing to England's success between 2009 and 2012. It was Moores who appointed Andy Flower as his deputy, Moores who brought back Graeme Swann, Moores who brought back Matt Prior and Moores who trusted James Anderson and Stuart Broad to take the new ball. When England attained the No. 1 Test ranking, Flower was, to his credit, keen to share the plaudits with his old friend.
That Flower influence is crucial. Flower remains, naturally enough, a persuasive figure at the ECB. While his relationship with Ashley Giles may well have become strained, the relationship with Moores remained excellent. So while Giles may well have felt some unease about Flower's presence in the background, for Moores it presented no obstacle. Whether any coach can really make the role their own while Flower lingers in the shadows remains to be seen. Moores certainly does not inherit a blank canvas.
He will have learned from some of his mistakes the first time around. While once he hid behind management speak and clichés that sounded as if they were found on the sort of motivational posters that bear pictures of dolphins breaking through waves, he now says he wants to present a more humane, honest face of the England set-up. And where once he felt the need to prove himself to a team full of big characters, he should now feel at ease among fewer extroverts and with his reputation restored. If he behaves as he has with Lancashire, he has nothing to fear. The baggage and pain of the past can be useful experience.
Perhaps his first challenge will be to help his side rediscover the joy of playing cricket and representing their country. While Jonathan Trott is the obvious example of a man who has seen the pressures outweigh the joys, there are others in the Ashes squad who are not so far from Trott's situation. Moores' first priority is to help the side play fearless cricket and avoid repetition of the debut experiences of Boyd Rankin and Simon Kerrigan; talented players who froze on the big occasion. The evidence of Moores' time at both Sussex and Lancashire suggests he is well equipped to do this.
Ashley Giles can take some comfort in Moores' renaissance. Giles has faced setbacks before - poor media coverage, family illness and a career-ending injury to name but three challenges - and has both the strength and the time to come back from this. He is a decade younger than Moores and will surely not want for work, both in coaching or in the media. Whether he wants to remain in the insecure world of coaching - or in the fickle employment of the ECB - is unclear, though. He is currently weighing up whether to remain an England selector. The ball is in his court.
He has been unfortunate, though. Only a few months ago, he saw his England side come within an ace of winning the first global ODI event in their history and he has never, even then or since, had his first-choice team available to him. Nor has he really had the opportunity to approach the job the way he would have wanted, with Flower retaining overall control for most of his stint as limited-overs coach and his World T20 plans thrown into chaos by the Pietersen situation. The loss against Netherlands, however, made giving him the head coach's job desperately difficult for the ECB in PR terms.
Paul Farbrace's appointment as Moores' deputy remains a work in progress. While Sri Lanka followers may baulk at Farbrace's early departure - he only took up the post in January - the fact is that the pay for the role is simply not competitive. Nor is it especially reliable. Head teachers in London earn more than head coaches of Sri Lanka.
But this will be Moores' England. He inherits a team at a low ebb and with the vultures already sensing vulnerability. But he will work hard, he will be honest and decent and he will benefit from the experience of success and failure that a long career in coaching has given him. There is much to admire in such characteristics. Given patience, Moores can make a success of this second chance.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo