Chris Waters: Safety first policy will be Moores’s undoing as he hangs on

SAFETY FIRST: England coach Peter Moores (left) and captain Alastair Cook.
SAFETY FIRST: England coach Peter Moores (left) and captain Alastair Cook.
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AS the old Chinese proverb would say if it actually existed: “He who dies wondering… dies.”

It is something that Peter Moores would do well to ponder in his precarious position as England head coach.

At various points in the past few weeks, Moores must have wondered how Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid and Adam Lyth would fare if given their chance in the England Test team.

After all, he helped select them in the squad for the ongoing tour of the West Indies.

But neither Rashid nor Lyth were picked for the first and second games of the three-match series, which finishes with the contest starting in Barbados on Friday.

Instead, they have joined fellow Yorkshiremen Jonny Bairstow and Liam Plunkett on the sidelines, with only Joe Root and Gary Ballance of the six Yorkshire players in the squad having so far featured, much to the frustration of all at Headingley. As such, Moores has overlooked in Rashid a leg-spinner with the ability to score Test match centuries and, in Lyth, an opening batsman who was leading run-scorer in last year’s County Championship First Division.

So much for giving it a go after a World Cup in which the principal criticism of England was that they were neither bold nor brave enough. Sadly, Moores’s mantra is not to “give it a go” but rather “safety first”.

Anyone who can endorse James Tredwell over Rashid, which happened in Antigua, is not going to preside over the brand of cricket necessary to restore England to No 1 in the world. Tredwell is extremely unlikely to win an Ashes Test, but Rashid just might.

That England have so far passed up the chance to look at Rashid against unremarkable opponents is the very definition of a wasted opportunity.

What Lyth must do to get his chance is anyone’s guess too.

Will the left-hander ultimately be remembered as one of the finest players never to play for England?

One hopes not, with Moores again playing it safe by promoting Jonathan Trott despite the fact there must still be question marks about his mental state to face the Australian pace attack.

The irony, of course, is that Moores is playing it safe because he fears for his job and is desperate for the series win in the West Indies that might help him keep it, yet his best chance of doing that is by being aggressive.

As Moores’s position has come under increasing scrutiny, so the bandwagon for Yorkshire’s first-team coach Jason Gillespie to replace him has gained momentum. The contrast between them is striking.

Yorkshire have blooded a number of young players in recent times under Gillespie and director of cricket Martyn Moxon. The result is that Yorkshire have developed the best team in the country with home-grown products to the fore.

In Nottingham last week, Yorkshire handed a first-class debut to Matthew Fisher who, at 17 years and 161 days, became the sixth-youngest Championship debutant in the club’s history.

The team also included Will Rhodes (20), Jack Leaning (21) and Alex Lees (22).

The game has moved on. Moores is marooned in the past and, unless there is a sudden sea-change, you fear that he will, indeed, die wondering.