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Newell takes blame as Patel and Ball offer hope

Middlesex 9 for 3 (Ball 3-2) trail Nottinghamshire 241 (Patel 100, Finn 4-54) by 232 runs
Scorecard

Legend has it that, when Brian Clough took over at Leeds United, he gathered his new team in the dressing room, told them to throw their medals in the bin as they were gained through cheating and made it very clear that things were going to change.

It seems safe to assume that Peter Moores will take a different approach to leadership at Trent Bridge. Moores, who will take over as head coach at Nottinghamshire on October 1, is not one for big gestures or emotional outbursts. He has always been, whatever the slings and arrows he has encountered, a gentle man.

So it is probably inevitable that some will suggest this "new" arrangement at Nottinghamshire amounts to little: just a re-branding of titles. Moores has, after all, largely been looking after the batsmen at the club this season and it has largely been that batting that has let them down. That old cliché about 'rearranging deckchairs on Titanic' had a few airings around the ground on Tuesday.

But, to listen to either Moores or Mick Newell, this is a significant change. It marks the end not just of an era that began in 2002, when Newell was appointed, but a move into a more professional era with a director of cricket managing long-term strategy across all the age groups and a head coach concentrating their efforts on the first team squad. It is a move many counties made some years ago.

Newell admits that, to some extent, the change of role will come as "a relief". He has, in effect, been juggling two roles for some time. Juggling throw-downs with paper-work; net sessions with calls from agents; travelling with the team while planning for the future. He is tired. And the energy and ideas that once flowed so readily and took this side to the top have ebbed just a little. "I've lived it and breathed it," he says. "Maybe it is a weight off my shoulders. I've had 33 years of dressing-room banter. I won't really miss that. You need passion for this job and mine has waned. My job description is full of academies and age group things. That gets neglected through the summer. Besides, I've a passion for management now. And my selection job."

But there is sadness, too. Not just for seeing the team he has built finish in such disappointing style - "You don't want to go out on a relegation as your last contribution" - but for leaving the dressing room environment that has been his life for more than 30 years. There is a moment, when he was talking about his pride - the whole club's pride - in the rise of Jake Ball, when he becomes just a little emotional and betrays the depth of feeling he has for a team that has been the focus of his entire working life. And he is not going far. Just "upstairs" as they say in football. But once that dressing room door closes, life is never quite the same. This is not a minor change for Newell.

It's not for Moores, either. He admits that, after his latest experience with England ended, he needed time to "repair myself and get my mojo back". At the time he was first approached for a consultancy role at the club, in July 2015, he had no interest in returning to a relatively high-profile role. It may be relevant that he will not have to move house to accept this job. He is settled, happy and valued. After the storms towards the end of his spell with England, those are qualities not to be underestimated.

He knows he comes with baggage, though. For every spectator who points out the Championship titles as coach at Sussex and Lancashire, there will be another who points out the Championship relegations at Lancashire and - most likely - Notts. Some will never forgive him for England's grim showing at the 2015 World Cup and some will point out that, after he was credited with Nottinghamshire's dramatic revival last season, he has to take some blame for their dramatic decline this year.

But just about every player he has worked with - yes, there are a couple of notable exceptions - speaks highly of him and he confirms, without naming counties, that he has been approached by a few in recent weeks. Not all of them with vacant coaching positions. His securement is a significant coup for any club; for one heading into the second division it is hugely encouraging.

"I never lost my hunger for working with players," he says. "After five or six weeks [following his sacking by England], I thought to myself 'the game doesn't owe you a living' and I started to want to build something again. Mick approached me about this role a few weeks ago and the time just seemed right for everyone. I'm all in now. I'm very excited by it."

Some things won't change. Peter Siddle will still be the overseas player in 2017, Newell will still be at the first day of most Championship games, albeit it "in chinos instead of a tracksuit" and, in the short term at least, there will be neither significant departures or significant arrivals.

But Moores will make the development of home-grown players "a priority" ("it's an area we've not produced as we would have liked," he says) and will surely improve the general standard of a fitness in a squad that, judged by the highest level, sticks out in the modern game. "There are areas we can get better," he says. "And we may have a playing staff in transition. There are definitely areas we can move on quite quickly."

Most of all, he will make the environment his own. After 15 years of the Newell way, it will be the Moores method. He will select the team and create his own environment in the dressing room. He will run professional cricket and take charge of training, net sessions and the style with which the team play. It is a significant promotion.

That's why Newell is adamant that Moores should start afresh. Moores is not, Newell insists, to blame for this impending relegation and should not be judged on the team's results this season.

"It's my CV that this relegation goes on," Newell said. "It's been my dressing room. Now it's his. At the end of this season, I'll have led the side to three relegations and two Championship titles. Once the relegations outweigh the titles, it's time to go.

"I knew we needed to change and, from October 1, we will change. This is my relegation, not his."

Moores is not one to blame others - "relegation hurts and it should hurt," he says, "we all have to take a share of that" - but agrees that he has not yet had a chance to manage this team and make his mark upon them.

"I haven't had a key role in running the team," Moores says. "It has not been my environment. I was asked to come in and support the coaching team. It wouldn't have been right for me to try and run things.

"Mick approached me to come to the club last year and he approached me about this job a few weeks ago. It has been a lot of work for one bloke. It seems like the right time for all of us."

Nottinghamshire's thin hopes of avoiding relegation were fanned here by a century - his second of the Championship season - from Samit Patel and a first-over hat-trick from Jake Ball. While Patel will never look especially comfortable against the short ball (even Tim Murtagh made him flinch at one stage here), he does time the ball unusually sweetly and plays spin just about as well as anyone in the country. He is not a left-arm spinner in the class of Jack Leach, who might just be the best available right now, but with his bowling also improving, Samit has to be among those under consideration for the Asian tours this winter.

Here he hit six fours and a six - a lovely, lofted drive over mid-off against Rayner - from Middlesex's spinners before, left with the tail, he clipped one off his legs to the man on the square-leg boundary.

Ball, meanwhile, immediately hit that wonderful length that propelled him into England recognition at the start of the season. He struck with the third, fourth and fifth balls of the first over of Middlesex's reply, forcing Sam Robson into a forward prod at one that left him and took the edge, before defeating nightwatchman Ollie Rayner as he played around a straight one and, after taking so long to emerge from the pavilion that Notts appeared to appeal for a timed-out dismissal, winning another leg-before decision when Nick Compton left his first, very straight and surprisingly fast, delivery. Ball did not bowl the final over of the day after appearing to jar his knee, but later insisted he was fine and expects to play a full part on day two.

For Middlesex, Steven Finn gained impressive swing - the delivery that bowled Tom Moores, through the gate, was beauty that pitched on off and hit leg - while Toby Roland-Jones ended a dangerous innings from Brendon Taylor with one that climbed sharply to take the shoulder of the bat. With Rayner gaining surprisingly sharp turn on this used surface (the recent ODI was played on it) and benefitting from a large slice of fortune when dismissing Michael Lumb - the batsman forced the ball into the off side only to see it lodge in the body of Nick Gubbins at silly-point- there were questions over the wisdom of Middlesex's decision to insert Notts. But Ball's burst was a reminder that there is plenty of assistance for seamers, too.

It may all come too late to save Notts, but it provides hopes that there are better days ahead and might yet derail Middlesex's title hopes.