January 2009
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Daniel Brigham: Start the car England

January 6th, 2009 by Daniel Brigham in England, Test cricket and tagged , , , ,

A nation is in trouble. Or, at least, a nation’s cricket team. And when a country needs a hero, who better than a hero named Xavier? No matter that it’s a middle name and that either side of it are ‘Graham’ and ‘Ford’, what England really need now is ‘Xavier, cricket prince’.

The rights and wrongs of the Kevin Pietersen v Peter Moores debate aren’t for this blog (although how I wish I could have got my PE teacher sacked when I was at school). Instead, let’s assume Peter Moores is put out of his misery. What happens next?

If KP has enough power to have his coach removed then you can’t imagine he’ll leave the appointment of Moores’ successor up to anyone else, no matter what Hugh Morris and David Collier will say. So, who would KP want? Graham Xavier Ford, silly.

Ford coached Pietersen in his early years at Natal, they are still in regular contact and KP has gone on record saying that Ford is a man who he respects and admires. Quite right, too. Despite overseeing Kent’s relegation in the Championship last season (although winning Championships hasn’t appeared to have helped Moores), Ford’s record is excellent.

He won domestic trophies with Natal in South Africa before being named South Africa’s assistant coach to Bob Woolmer – there are few better international coaches to learn from. He took over as head coach after the 1999 World Cup and led South Africa to eight out of 11 series wins. That he was sacked in 2001 as a scapegoat following the Hansie Cronje affair does not diminish his achievements.

His experience at international and domestic levels will bring new ideas to a rather stale looking England team, ideas that Moores does not have in his (shellsuited) armoury. Like Duncan Fletcher, Ford apparently listens to players before advising them – Moores appears to like to get in players’ faces. There are different ways to be a good coach, but it seems clear which works best for England.

What’s more, he’s southern African and that’s worked for England’s best coach and their best current player. He’s also a bad headline-writer’s dream (Ford Focused on task ahead, Ford in top gear for Ashes etc), which, as you can see, is great news for us at TWC.

It’s not just KP who rates him. Steve James wrote in the Telegraph that while in India two England players were discussing who the best county coach was if Moores needed replacing – both said Ford.

This was an innocent, hypothetical conversation, but it suggests that the England players may well respect Pietersen more than many believe. Getting them to India was a mammoth achievement and one that would not have been possible if there was even a sniff of a mutiny against him – where the captain goes, his players will follow.

Although Ford turned down the offer of coaching India in June 2007, there is no better time to take over as England coach. Two series against the lowest ranked established Test nation followed by an Ashes series against the worst Australian team since Jason Donavan was in the charts. Then the World Twenty20 – and Kent have been rather good in the 20 over format under Ford. It’s the perfect time for a man of Ford’s qualities to reacquaint himself with international coaching.

If KP wants Prince Xavier, then there’s every reason to believe the rest of his players will too. And this will achieve the stable, happy atmosphere they all seem to be craving. And, potentially, a winning one too.

Daniel Brigham is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in England, Test cricket | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Daniel Brigham: Start the car England”

  1.   English Cricket Blog says:

    If Moores goes then Ford would be a very good replacement although the fact he is not English will wrongly count against him in some quarters.

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