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Team Talk STORY
Promotion priority for Moores

"You learn a lot from losing because it lives with you longer, you can't shake it off." Peter Moores's comments were predictably direct and straightforward.

For all that the Lancashire coach has absorbed the argot of his profession, he is not the sort of man to avoid telling it like it is, neither to the media nor, one suspects, to the players.
 
So as Lancashire conclude their winter programme and move into the pre-season phase of their preparations - another distinction Moores favours - he is quite clear about his main objective for 2013.
 
"We want to be a First Division side again and my priority is for us to be promoted," he said. "We had an exceptional season in 2011 but it didn't work for us in the Championship in 2012. You have to learn from both experiences. The difference in performance isn't massive but it's enough. You build on years like 2012 by not forgetting your strengths but identifying areas you can address. You're trying to get to a point where whether you get the breaks or not, you're always in the top three. We build on everything and we have to take our losses like we take our wins."
 
To achieve his primary goal, although it is by no means his only ambition for the coming summer, Moores has prepared the Old Trafford squad by using a combination of active rest, physical conditioning and skill-based work.
 
"The month after the season ends the players have a period of active rest and you then come in and do physical work for about a fortnight," Moores explained. "Then they have a block of about six weeks when they mix the physical and skills. After Christmas the time is divided into two or three-week blocks again. Now, say you want a better slower ball, well you're not going to get it in a week. As professional sportsmen there is a lot they can do indoors to improve skills and the programmes are individually tailored to their requirements.
 
"I don't like the word technique," Moores added, "I prefer skill. Skill is being able to deliver something whereas technique sounds a bit stiff and wooden. If I want to pick a ball up and smack it over midwicket I have to practice that. The key is that you look at his game with a player and if there's certain areas in which he can enhance his skills, he's going to do that. If there's certain areas where you can make a weakness no longer visible to the opposition, you're going to do that as well.
 
"Somewhere in all that, they're going to become better sportsmen. If they were on the England Academy programme, they'd be doing the same thing. There's no need for a player and coach to disagree about what needs to be done because there's sufficient evidence to show the areas that need to be worked on."
 
The Lancashire players have rarely worked together as a single squad this winter. Instead, they have come into the indoor school - or gone to the Desert Springs resort in Spain -  in small groups and attended to the skills which they need to acquire or the weaknesses they must eliminate. Moores is happy to illustrate his approach by using the example of Karl Brown.
 
"Karl's had two full seasons and he's learned a lot in both," he said. "Last year he got hurt by just falling over a bit when he was playing shots, so he's had some issues he wants to work at against certain types of bowling and we can set that up for him in the indoor school. He can tag on things like batting at the death, so he goes into the season feeling better.
 
"In 2012, like a lot of the batters, he couldn't get runs in April and May because it was very difficult, and he was put under pressure. It's hard. Karl is a top five batter and you have to make the most of your opportunities every time you go to the wicket. By his own admission, he would perhaps say that he didn't cash in last year. In England if there's bit of moisture around in April and May you are going to get some good balls and you have to cash in if you get through them."
 
Kyle Hogg was another Red Rose cricketer who found the game a tougher proposition in 2012 than he had twelve months previously. "Kyle bowled beautifully in 2011 and he didn't bowl that badly in 2012," said Moores, "but backing up a good season is tough. Like a number of our bowlers, he chased the game. We didn't always get the runs we wanted and we ended up trying to bowl sides out too cheaply. In 2011 we were ruthlessly patient, put sides under pressure for a long time and suddenly we got our wickets."
 
There are new faces to fit into the Lancashire squad too. Sajid Mahmood and Gary Keedy are no longer at the club but Wayne White and Kabir Ali have signed while Simon Katich is to return for a second spell at the club.  
 
"Wayne's in Australia so we won't be working with him until later in March," said Moores. "I'm excited about him. I think he's a good cricketer and a very aggressive one. He bowls at a decent pace, he whacks the ball and he's decent fielder.  He'll compete with the other all-rounders in our squad. Kabir gives us experience and we'd lost that with the departures of Saj Mahmood and Gary Keedy. Kabir's had some tough injuries and the challenge is to get him on the park."
 
And so five weeks on Wednesday, Worcestershire will pitch up at Old Trafford and the Championship season will get under way. Lancashire's objective is to expunge some of the memories of 2012 - but Moores has ambitions for the white-ball game too.   
 
"We played decent one-day cricket last season but we didn't get the rub of the green. In the CB40 we played well but not well enough in the semi-final. We're ready to compete in the short forms of the game and go all the way and win a trophy. Let's hope next year is the time when we can do it."

Paul Edwards
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh

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