England’s ODI against Scotland may have been cut short prematurely due to rain, but head coach Peter Moores will have plenty of food for thought nonetheless.
The Three Lions got Moores’ second stint in charge under way with a 39-run victory on Duckworth-Lewis, and while it may be too early to judge, the former Lancashire coach at least looked far more comfortable in the pavilion the second time around.
His return to Lancashire has admittedly given Moores some more coaching experience, but his first spell with the national side highlighted his issues with man-management, and in particular, player power. That he is unlikely to encounter such issues again may be a reflection only on the lack of characters in the dressing room, barring the volatile Stuart Broad.
This will be an England without Kevin Pietersen, or even Graeme Swann, both of whom were to exit international cricket after the Ashes whitewash, albeit for very different reasons.
During Moores’ first spell between 2007 and 2009, he did not only do battle with Pietersen, but also fell out with Michael Vaughan over his management style. Vaughan has recently come out in support of Moores, insisting the current captain Alistair Cook will get on far better with him.
Cook and Moores recently teamed up to sack batting coach Graham Gooch, in a reminder that the new head coach is desperate to stamp his authority on a group of players who are only too aware of what went wrong five years ago.
Pietersen had even resigned as captain in the wake of his dispute with Moores, but proved more indispensable than the 51-year-old, whose comments in the build-up to the Scotland game showed he was a man of unfinished business.
Unfortunately, not too much can be gauged from the victory against England’s neighbours on Friday. The weather wreaked havoc with the fixture, which did not start until 16:00, and with all due respect, a far greater test will present itself when Sri Lanka arrive at Lord’s on June 12.
Sangakkara and co. will no doubt provide some stiff opposition, though Michael Leask kept England sweating with 42 off 16 balls before being dismissed by the in-form James Anderson.
Much had been made, too, of England’s opening partnership of Cook and Warwickshire’s Ian Bell, who scored 44 and 50 respectively. Bell must have affirmed in Moores’ mind that he should be a regular opener, rather than youthful Joe Root who has been moved down the order.
His half century meant that Bell has now overtaken Alec Stewart to become England’s second-highest run-scorer in ODIs. James Tredwell was the other stand-out performer of the day, taking 4-40. Meanwhile, Ravi Bopara took two wickets but once again struggled with the bat, notching up just 3 runs.
A match that admittedly served as a warm-up may not have made up Moores’ mind entirely ahead regarding selection ahead of the Sri Lanka series, but a return to winning ways has at least left the England camp something of a happier place than it was when he arrived.
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