Graham Gooch's exit was on cards as fresh thinking shapes England future

Graham Gooch could still offer valuable advice to England but he was always destined to be a casualty. Photograph: Tom Jenkins You c...

Graham Gooch could still offer valuable advice to England but he was always destined to be a casualty. Photograph: Tom Jenkins
You could find Graham Gooch along the south coast last week. Michael Carberry was receiving advice, something that Gooch has been imparting apparently since before Carberry's comments in an interview on these pages in late March. Then it was on to Hove where he engaged in helping resurrect Matt Prior's batting after the implosion of his game in Australia. Diligent then until the last.
Now, he will take his dog-thrower, with which he has delivered the equivalent of several thousand overs of throwdowns in the nets, and concentrate on mentoring individual players. It would be foolish to cut off totally such expertise.
But Gooch was always clinging on, apparent to this correspondent even before the sorry final Test in Sydney that he would become a casualty. For all his immense work ethic and incredible knowledge of the art and science of batting, gained from scoring more runs in the upper echelons of the game than anyone else in history, the England batting, over a period of a year, had stagnated first of all and then become dysfunctional. No longer were they racking up the big totals that were instrumental in them reaching the top of the tree.
Only once, in 15 Test matches since the successful tour of India at the back end of 2012, have they exceeded 400, and that more than a year ago in Wellington. Even 300 has been surpassed only three times. In 10 matches against Australia, they conceded a first innings lead in all matches except that at Lord's and – not that it did them any good – at the MCG.
As a collective, the team had forgotten how to forge partnerships. There was a complete systematic breakdown of the batting unit. It may say more about them than Gooch, but it is said that many of the players – and shame on them for it, if true – simply stopped listening to the record. Maybe it was a generational thing: Gooch is 60.
Something had to give. No top-order batsman came out of the series with credit: a change in the batting coach was inevitable and would probably have eventuated even had Andy Flower continued in his role. The sweeping changes that have been made in the last few months settled the matter, though.
Already Alastair Cook has started to exert the authority that those within the dressing room have always recognised but which was less apparent beyond the confines. Cook, coached and mentored by Gooch from a young age, let it not be forgotten, was the one to tell him that he was in favour of change and that it was time to move on. He wants his new team to approach batting in a less constrained manner and that requires a new perspective in the management.
In this, he has the full backing of the new head coach, Peter Moores, who will have reached the decision to replace Gooch only after consultation with Cook. Graham Thorpe, the lead batting coach at the high performance centre and who has been coaching the one-day squads, appears favourite to take over, although he is thought to be reluctant to commit to a full time role. Mark Ramprakash, one of the most prolific run scorers of modern times if an unfulfilled talent at international level, is another possibility.
Thus, over the past few months, a significant change to the whole structure of England cricket has taken place. Hugh Morris left his job as managing director of England cricket at the end of last year to return to Glamorgan, while the winter Ashes series was Geoff Miller's last brief as national selector. The recruitment of Paul Downton as Morris's replacement was an excellent move, and James Whitaker has served his time well as a selector before stepping into Miller's shoes.
The departure of Flower came about because he could not envisage returning to a full-time role embracing all formats, something he saw as necessary for the side to progress, but the return of Moores, a brilliant coach in the estimation of those who have worked with him in the last five years, is another excellent move.
The addition of Paul Farbrace also gives him the backup of someone with proven, albeit relatively brief, international experience and success, and is clearly designed to give Moores someone in place to take charge of some tours to offset the onerous scheduling. Finally, two new selectors, Angus Fraser and Mick Newell, the latter replacing Ashley Giles, will bring a fresh perspective.
If having not just one but two directors of county sides on the panel is far from ideal, particularly as they represent First Division teams so presumably will have little opportunity to look at the Second Division, they are unimpeachable characters of vast experience. Now there will be a new batting coach. It is a vastly different landscape we see now to that which might have been envisaged six months ago.


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