Peter Hayter finds England’s former batting coach eager to allay fears at Chelmsford over his consultancy work at Edgbaston
Graham Gooch has spoken to The Cricket Paper to deny claims that his work as a part-time batting consultant with Warwickshire has created a conflict of interests with his roles as club ambassador and cricket committee member at his beloved Essex.
The former England captain and batting coach, whose record of 8,900 Test runs was overtaken last summer by his protégé Alastair Cook, has been hit with criticism from certain elements at his home county since Warwickshire announced he would be helping their batsmen this summer.
In the week leading up to the start of the season, Bears’ cricket director Dougie Brown went on record to confirm Gooch, 62, had joined the club as a batting consultant, a statement that caused some at Chelmsford to question his commitment to the county he has represented since making his first-class debut more than 40 years ago, as player, captain and head coach.
But Gooch insists any such fears are unfounded.
“In some quarters,” Gooch explains, “the arrangement with Warwickshire has been portrayed as a lot more than it is.
“It was portrayed as a full-on job as a batting consultant and it isn’t. I’m going to be doing a handful of days on an ad hoc basis as and when necessary, but there is no way this is a regular commitment as has been suggested.
“Some people at Essex thought it represented a conflict of interests, but I don’t see it that way. If it was 30 or 40 days a year that would be a conflict because you can’t be in two places at once. Warwickshire have a coach and never asked me to make a full-time commitment.
“I was asked to get involved by Ian Bell as, even though I haven’t worked with England since the start of the 2014 season, we have maintained our relationship.”
Gooch has also enjoyed a working relationship with Bell’s county colleague Jonathan Trott and maintains a similar arrangement with Cook.
“I’ve done little bits of work with Alastair for a while and, while I wouldn’t say that’s regular, it’s still ongoing if he wants it.
“As for my work with Warwickshire, my personal brief is that if anyone asks me, and especially England players, I am happy to help them because I consider we are all a big family in cricket. I don’t see that as a conflict.”
Two years have passed since Gooch was sacked by England at the end of the 2013-14 Ashes whitewash Down Under and he admits the blow was a heavy one, the experience made tougher for all concerned because, as power was being transferred from Andy Flower to Peter Moores, it was left to Cook, as England skipper, to explain to his mentor and hero that his services were no longer required.
But Gooch insists he is more than happy with his current workload, mainly with Essex, but also comprising freelance coaching jobs, such as his deal with Warwickshire and has no desire to return to a full-time position.
Indeed, Gooch reveals he has turned down more than one offer of full-time work with county clubs.
“Never say never but I don’t want a full-time coaching job at the moment because I am happy doing what I am doing.
“I have had offers which I have declined. It’s nice for the ego to know that you’re still held in some regard.
“I didn’t want things to finish with England the way they finished, obviously, but I understand that that tour didn’t go well and when you get a change of coach they have different ideas. That’s fair enough and you accept that.
“You want to go on your own terms, but there you go. I had four and a half years, it was great fun and we had some success.”
Looking to the future of the national team, Gooch is optimistic, but he also believes a note of caution, mixed with one of regret for the early retirement of James Taylor, is appropriate.
“I like the way English cricket is going,” he says.
“But, while there is a lot of talent and some of those exciting players are the future we know, there is still a lot of maturing to be done and craft that some of them have got to learn, so there are going to be some difficult times and a few blowouts along the way.
“We are a handful when we bat on true surfaces, but batting on turning pitches in India this winter might be a struggle for some of them.
“Apart from Cook and Joe Root, if we have to use craft and experience of playing in difficult conditions we might be found a bit wanting.
“That’s why the news about James Taylor is doubly sad.
“James would have been a shoo-in to play against India because he has a bit of nous about him, an excellent temperament and the type of character we are looking for.
“My heart goes out to him. He is such a good lad, but what a thing to have to deal with mentally – apparently fit and healthy, just making a career breakthrough and possibly thinking he may have the chance of playing international cricket for six or seven years and then that’s all taken away just like that.”
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, Friday April 22 2016