County view

Moores' fresh outlook

Peter Moores is showing signs of making better use of county cricket than Duncan Fletcher

Andrew McGlashan

May 22, 2007

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Andrew Flintoff's return to Lancashire was a sensible decision from the England management © Getty Images
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One group of people who won't have been too sad to see Duncan Fletcher end his reign with England are the county coaches who had to endure his increasing disregard for the domestic game. Already, the signs are that Peter Moores is more willing to use the system which has produced (most) England players and doesn't have the same obsession with wrapping them in cotton wool.

This past week has shown two very shrewd uses of county cricket which benefits both parties. Firstly there was James Anderson being allowed to play Lancashire's Championship match against Hampshire, either side of his call-up to the squad at Lord's; and then there was Moores' decision to release Andrew Flintoff for a Friends Provident game against Yorkshire in order to test his ankle. Lancashire, who feel they have received the rough end of England 's handling of players in recent years, are now enjoying a change in fortune.

"I think this kind of thing is helping both parties at the moment," said Lancashire's manager, Mike Watkinson. "There are a few England players who are in need of more practice in certain areas, and a county like ours really enjoys having home-grown international players out on the field."

The Anderson move is just common sense, but something that was lacking especially in the latter years of Fletcher's time at the helm. It is an irony that Anderson was one of the players to suffer most from Fletcher's desire to never split up his squad, even when it meant players sitting on the sidelines match after match. If Flintoff's latest injury scenario had happened under Fletcher, no doubt Anderson would have been named in a bloated squad and spent three days bowling at a stump at Lord's.

Instead, he played a full first day against Worcestershire and was even allowed to wait until lunch on the second before travelling to London. Then, as soon as England named their eleven at Lord's he was back on a train to Manchester. That he bowled only 12 overs in the match was down to the weather and Lancashire 's poor position. It still isn't an ideal situation, either for the county who has to chop and change (Tom Smith's role in the match was one over), or the player who moves backwards and forwards, but it's a refreshingly new angle to an aspect of England's management that had become stale.

So, too, is the move with Flintoff. Alarm bells ring whenever there's a twitch in his ankle and there are calls to put him in a padded room and remove all life's dangers between matches. But Moores' England decided Flintoff's time was better spent out on the field - albeit as a batsman and fielder only - and his condition would then be reassessed.

Fletcher's opinions of the county structure sank lower as the years went on. He became deeply cynical about the standard and whether it really prepared a player for international cricket. There is validity to that argument, but to stubbornly shun the one arena where players can hone their skills was short-sighted. It remains to be seen how Moores uses the game in the long term, but the signs are that it won't be the same tale of them and us.

Glamorgan youngster passes his first test

Despite being awarded an Ashes Test in 2009 amid the redevelopment of Sophia Gardens, there haven't been many positive stories on the field for Glamorgan in recent years. But 17-year-old James Harris shows that their pool of talent hasn't dried up. This week he became the youngest bowler to take 10 wickets in a Championship match when he bowled Gloucestershire's Stephen Adshead at Bristol, after taking seven in the first innings. He already held the record as Glamorgan's youngest second eleven player, making his debut at 14, and was the county's youngest Championship wicket-taker aged 16. But still being a sixth-form student is going to cause him a few problems.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," he told The Times. "Unfortunately I can't play for Glamorgan next week because I have exams on Tuesday and Thursday. I've got to get my head in the books over the next couple of days. I want to do well in my exams and then hopefully it will be cricket, cricket, cricket for the rest of the summer."

England watch

Matthew Hoggard, Liam Plunkett and Steve Harmison help bowl their counties to victories ahead of the first Test...James Anderson takes one wicket for Lancashire between England calls...Graham Onions presses his claims with eight scalps against Warwickshire... Ravi Bopara hits 101 against Ireland in the Friends Provident...Paul Nixon hits 85 against Essex

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo

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Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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