If you watched England’s three-day Test defeat by the West Indies in Barbados the other day to the bitter end you will have heard some of the England players being interviewed afterwards.
They uniformly referred to their coach, the now departed Peter Moores, as ‘Mooresie’. And therein you feel lies a few of the problems infesting English cricket. It’s hard to imagine even John Terry shouting across the car park: ‘Oi Mouro, that was bang out of order.’ Or in an earlier time, a post-match David Beckham telling the world about ‘Fergie’. No, it was always The Boss, or Sir Alex. I know we are all in favour of flat management structures, shirt sleeves, no ties, Dave and Sam, a few beers after work. But Mooresie? Seriously?
So as the redoubtable Andrew Strauss takes to the field as director, English cricket, amid a Twitter storm of fury over the Kevin Pietersen affair, here are a few thoughts on how he can reform English cricket, not least by making sure that he’s not called Straussie.
1. Select the best team, then worry about the captain. It doesn’t mean you have to pick those you regard as a ‘complete cunt’. If that player called you a ‘doos’, which is Afrikaans for something similar, only the most misguided would slate you for not picking the guy.
2. Stop worrying about tradition. One you might want to get rid of is the ability of the cricket establishment to screw things up. It would have been helpful if cricket board chairman Colin Graves had refrained from suggesting Pietersen could come back if he amassed a pile of runs in county cricket. Er, that’s what he has done.
3. Insist on nine regions based at Test grounds for 50-over and T20 cricket, home and away. The top four go into play-offs. Three overseas players allowed per team. All T20 played in an intense chunk during the school holidays to boost attendance.
4. Make the County Championship three six-team conferences, North, Midlands and South. End the season with play-offs for three group winners and one best runner-up.
5. Fast bowlers and spinners will win games, so do everything possible to aid their development. If spinners are taken to the West Indies, make sure they get a bowl.
6. Encourage flair, individuality, the maverick. You don’t have to be a rebel to be a batting genius — Adam Gilchrist was a batsman of unique flair; he was also a very nice guy and the ultimate insider.
7. Work with the Asian community at all levels of cricket so that they are engaged, integrated and encouraged.
8. Be open with the media but never forget that it can be a tricky game. When your sort-of predecessor, Paul Downton, said he didn’t like KP’s attitude and he wouldn’t be playing for England again, he unleashed the hounds of hell, and lost his job.
9. Never forget that cricket is fun, hard work, sure, but fun, too, and that people who don’t find it fun have no place in the game.
10. Look at how the rest of the world plays the game. Look at the extraordinary athleticism of the IPL and foster that spirit. If in doubt, watch Dwayne Bravo make a miraculous one-handed boundary catch for the Chennai Super Kings this weekend, leaping to pluck Shane Watson’s six-hit out of thin air. Make sure our cricketers can aim for that. All the cricket grounds in the country would fill up again.
Roger Alton is an executive editor at the Times.