Why does the England cricket team have more coaches than National Express?

WHATEVER happens in the final Test against India, due to have started in Ahmedabad this morning, one thing is clear: there should be no excuses going forward for an England men’s team that has more coaches at its disposal than National Express.

Marcus Trescothick: Named as England’s new ‘elite batting coach’.

Another three were announced on Monday – Marcus Trescothick, the former England and Somerset batsman, the new “Elite Batting Coach”; Jon Lewis, the ex-Gloucestershire and England seamer, the new “Elite Pace Bowling Coach”, and Jeetan Patel, the former Warwickshire and New Zealand off-spinner, the new “Elite Spin Bowling Coach”.

Throw in the fact that Richard Dawson, the former Yorkshire and England off-spinner, is replacing Lewis in the role of Young Lions Head Coach – henceforth reconfigured as 
“Elite Pathway Coach” – and it seems no stone has been left unturned.

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Oh, and did I forget to mention Graham Thorpe and Paul Collingwood, who will remain assistant coaches to head coach Chris Silverwood, or the “Elite Fielding Coach” Carl Hopkinson?

As I say, more coaches than National Express.

In addition, that doesn’t include the various consultants who have dipped in and out lately, including Jonathan Trott, Jacques Kallis, James Foster and Chris Read, not to mention those who work further down the pyramid.

I must be honest: the term “elite” in this context has always bugged me. In fact, it was used no fewer than 10 times in the England and Wales Cricket Board press release announcing the latest appointments, as if to emphasise superiority. Expressions such as “elite coaches” and “elite athletes” – no supporter ever talks like that. Basically, it’s baloney.

It puts one in mind of Australia coach Justin Langer and his widely derided use of “elite honesty” and “elite mateship”. What was wrong with simply “honesty” and “mateship”? Or, for that matter, why did they need to be underlined at all?

Terms such as “elite coaches”, as opposed to simply “coaches”, which is what they are, suggests a certain arrogance that the sport could well do without. And quite who Jeetan Patel will have to coach is a moot point, given the paucity of spinners in the English game due primarily to the fact that so much about county cricket seems actively geared to stop England producing them.

Whether Patel’s role proves to be money for old rope, one really cannot say, but doubtless it is another coaching box ticked and makes everyone feel a bit better about themselves and that English cricket really cares about spin.

Do England really need so many coaches? Now that they have them, shouldn’t they be winning pretty much everything, or else what’s the point? Granted, England are not alone in following the National Express route, but surely supporters have a right to expect a massive return on this investment, starting with this winter’s Ashes.

Coaching is, of course, an important part of cricket and there are some excellent coaches in that England set-up. However, if you are good enough to play at international level, it is surely more man-managers and sounding boards that you need as opposed to seven or eight coaches. Or perhaps that’s naive.

The late Brian Close certainly had no time for them all.

“A bunch of trick cyclists” he used to say of England’s bloated backroom set-up.

Still, at least they’re “elite” trick cyclists now, Mr Close.

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