By Steve Douglas
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
England appointed former captain Andrew Strauss as its new director of cricket on Saturday and announced the departure of head coach Peter Moores less than an hour later in a bid to restore the fortunes of the troubled national team.
Strauss, one of the country’s most successful captains, was empowered to decide the long-term strategy of English cricket and his first decision was to end Moores’ second spell as coach after a year in charge.
“At the moment it’s difficult to put into words how I feel except to say how disappointed I am in the way my term as England coach has ended,” Moores said in a statement.
“I knew when I took on the role that this was going to be a tough period for English cricket and I would need time and support to get new players through. My frustration is not being given that time.”
In 52 matches in all formats under Moores since May last year, England has lost 29 and won 19. England failed to get out of its group in the Cricket World Cup and then drew 1-1 in a test series against a weakened West Indies side.
Paul Farbrace, England’s current assistant coach, will take charge of the team for the two-test series against New Zealand starting May 21. England also hosts Australia in a five-test Ashes series this summer.
The 38-year-old Strauss retired in 2012 after captaining England to back-to-back Ashes series victories and the team’s rise to No. 1 in the test rankings. As an opening batsman, he scored 7,037 runs in 100 tests at an average of 40.91.
In retirement, he has worked as a TV pundit and newspaper columnist, and has now taken up one of the most powerful positions in English cricket.
Strauss, who was born in South Africa, will “oversee the England’s senior men’s team including their performance and development programs and the selection process and player pathway,” according to the ECB. The position was created after the ECB fired managing director Paul Downton last month following England’s dismal World Cup campaign.
“Andrew’s breadth of ideas, his passion for England cricket and his proven leadership skills shone out,” ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said.
“He was an exceptional England captain, is an authoritative voice on the modern game and has a wealth of experience building successful teams. Andrew is also widely respected across the sporting landscape. We’re delighted he’s joining us at the ECB as we set out to create a new strategy for the game.”
Former Australia internationals Jason Gillespie and Justin Langer have been mentioned in the British media as potential replacements for Moores.
Since losing 5-0 in the Ashes series in Australia in 2013-14, England has seen the departure of Andy Flower as coach, Alastair Cook as ODI captain, Ashley Giles as limited-overs coach, backroom staff members Graham Gooch and Mushtaq Ahmed, and gone through two managing directors.
Star batsman Kevin Pietersen has also seen his national contract terminated in an attempt by England to restore unity and harmony in the dressing room.
Pietersen is seeking a way back into the England team but Strauss’ appointment is unlikely to help his chances. Pietersen claimed in his recently published autobiography that a clique of players bullied and intimidated teammates in the Flower era in which Strauss was captain.
One of Strauss’ top priorities will likely be overhauling England’s ODI team to make it more competitive after years of failure in the 50-over format. Despite its recent disappointment in the West Indies, England still has a competitive test team that is ranked fourth in the world.
Moores was described as the “outstanding coach of his generation” when appointed and was a popular figure among England’s players. But he was criticized for alleged outdated strategies and reliance on statistics, with critics saying England needed a leader with more gravitas and experience of the international game.
“I believe time will show that I have been instrumental in the identification and development of a new group of England players who will go on and bring honour and success to the England badge,” Moores said.
“My record in developing players stands for itself and, though we have had some frustrations along the way, I am confident that this team will go on and bring the success the supporters desperately want to see.”