Opinion: Is going backwards the wisest move?

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The appointment has been met with some limited enthusiasm and quite a lot of 'meh'. As with affairs of the heart, does going back ever really work?

In a move that Dr Emmett Brown would applaud, England have turned back time and re-appointed Peter Moores as head coach.

The appointment has been met with some limited enthusiasm and quite a lot of 'meh'. As with affairs of the heart, does going back ever really work?

It's far too simplistic to think that Moores was sacked as England coach in 2009 purely because of Kevin Pietersen being Kevin Pietersen. He was sacked off the back of some poor results and a number of senior players (not just KP) not liking his methods.

The Moores of previous tenure had a tendency to speak in nonsensical gobbledygook, in corporate garbage and his micro-management of players rubbed up not just KP but Vaughan and Collingwood amongst others.

It's a cliche but it's a results game and his results as England coach were far from impressive especially away from home.

It wasn't all bad though. Moores was and remains a very good judge of young players. He should be given much credit for bringing Prior, Broad and Swann into the England side – three players who have had an enormous amount of success. It's hard to think of a player that Andy Flower brought in to the side who has had similar sustained success.

Perhaps, in the five years he has been away from the job, Moores has had time to reflect on his methods. Certainly almost every player on the county circuit who you speak to cannot speak highly enough of him, and the Lancashire Championship-winning side of 2011 put their success squarely down to his leadership and his ability to get the most out of a side not packed with stars, and who nobody had tipped for the title.

International players are more reserved in their praise for him. That won't matter so much as a new wave of England players, who only know Moores from Lancashire, sweeps into the England side.

He knows them and they know him from the safety of county cricket. He should work well in conjunction with the selection panel of James Whittaker and Gus Fraser – both of whom are also steeped in county cricket.

Most importantly though, Moores will need to work out exactly what the role of Head Coach means and how he can be a different type of coach to Andy Flower. By the end, Flower had stifled the life out of his players. They had been paralysed by being over analysed.

What exactly is the job of the Head Coach?

It isn't the technical. They have a batting, bowling and fielding coach who do the cones and bibs and nets work. He isn't there to decide who bowls at what point in the match and whether there should be a leg gully in. He isn't in charge of selection, although clearly has an input.

So what is his job? It's a question that most International coaches don't seem to have entirely got an answer to.

During his unveiling, Moores spoke of his job being to make sure that his players are able to be themselves, able to express themselves in an arena where it's sometimes very difficult to do that.

The lines between the role of coach and the role of captain aren't definitive but Moores must do things differently to Flower. If Cook is to grow into the role of England captain, he must be able to be the man who leads his players both on and off the field.

He must be given sufficient leeway to adapt during passages of play. No one is quite sure whether he is able to do this because he was never able to under Andy Flower. Every ball of every match was planned and Cook was stifled (he'll say otherwise but he was).

One school of thought is that it is the job of the captain to execute the vision of the coach on the pitch. And in football, that works perfectly well. In cricket, it almost certainly isn't that straightforward.

For many – a cricket captain is the ultimate leader of the team – it is he who should decide on the 10 men he wants to lead onto the field. It is he who should decide on the sort of cricket he wants his team to play and he who should be the one to set the dressing room tone.

Certainly Brearley, Illingworth, Chappell were all the ones wearing the trousers. The coach was there to support and little more. In recent times though, the balance has shifted.

The director of cricket is the uber-leader who sets the ethos of the team, the vision and the plans for the match. Thus, Leaving very little for the captain to do. It's not a strategy that works if it emasculates the captain to the extent that they are unable to think for themselves.

With the inevitable wave of new players coming into the side over the coming months and years, the role of the captain must be clear, he must be the man who the new players feel is their boss, is the one who is leading them into the metaphorical trenches.

Australia's turnaround in fortunes since their hammering in India in early 2013, can arguably be put down to a complete change in approach under their new coach Darren Lehmann. Simplistically, it's a 'have a beer and enjoy it' approach to cricket but it's more than that.

Lehmann not only allows each of his players to be their own man, he positively makes them take responsibility for themselves. That's a stark contrast to England under Flower and indeed, the ECB's approach to their players.

England players rarely front up to the press in the way that David Warner was made to after punching Joe Root. It's a small thing but indicative of an entirely different mindset.

The Lehmann approach is not without its flaws and it's an approach that may not work with a new young side. Moores's challenge is to carve his own way, one that isn't the Flower way and that isn't the Lehmann way but is something in the middle.

There are some early positive signs. Some of the undecipherable nonsense of the old Moores is still there – he spoke more than once about 'connecting players' (are they pieces of Meccano?) – but there was a more straightforward air about the way he spoke at his press conference.

It's unlikely we'll see the new England behaving more like a Lehmann Australian side than a Flower England side – not least because, lest we forget, Flower is still there lurking in Loughborough and undoubtedly pulling some behind-the-scenes strings.

One wonders if Moores is strong enough to counter the Flower/Clarke/Collier factors? The jury is out on whether it's a wise move to have gone back – It rarely works with romantic liaisons, but will it work for England?

<b>Elizabeth Ammon</b>

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