Recently appointed SWD Coach, Andy Moles, is a former opening batsmen who scored over 13,000 runs for his beloved Warwickshire and who went on to enjoy a coaching career that took him from Hong Kong, to Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa and to war torn Afghanistan.
“The game has been very kind to me,” says Andy. “I’ve travelled all around the world, which is remarkable.” He is contracted as the SWD senior team coach for the next two seasons
In addition to his time at Warwickshire, Andy also played domestic cricket in South Africa. In three seasons for Griqualand West, Andy scored 1,989 runs at 64.16 and I asked him if he felt there was much of a difference, at the time, in the standard of domestic cricket in England and South Africa.
“In England every county had magnificent overseas quick bowlers, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Courtney Walsh, Sylvester Park to name just a few. When I went out to South Africa there wasn’t the quality of overseas player. However, as you didn’t play as many games the competition was harder. The ball bounced a lot more and the weather conditions were a lot hotter. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. You played once every couple of weeks, you could properly prepare for games, relax when you needed to and it helped focus the mind. You knew you had nine or ten opportunities to get the very best out of your performance for the team.”
Andy lists Wasim Akram as the finest bowler he faced during his career. “It wasn’t just because of his pace, but as an opening batsman I didn’t face that many left arm over bowlers at that time. The different angle made it very difficult. Also, we had Allan Donald playing for us and with Lancashire having a strong side Allan always wanted to do well against them and would try and bowl at the speed of light. But this of course would wind Wasim up so he would then try and outdo Allan and bowl even faster, which wasn’t ideal for an opening batsman like me!”
Andy retired from first class cricket in 1997 and headed straight into coaching. Having played for many years under the late Bob Woolmer, he couldn’t have had a better mentor and tutor.
“You always learn from your mentors. I tried to take the best from all of the people that moulded me as a player. Bob was a very good man manager. He challenged every single individual to get better, whether it was someone like me, as a senior batsman, who had played for many years, he challenged me not to stand still. He challenged us to improve our games and become better players. In my coaching career now, I always talk to my players about improving some part of their game.”
Andy’s coaching career began at Griqualand West where he stayed for five years.
In 2001, Andy got his first appointment as the head coach of a national team, when he coached Hong Kong at the 2001 ICC World Cup. His spell in charge of Hong Kong was soon followed by spells in charge of Scotland and Kenya. His success in charge of these associate nations led to his appointment as head coach of Northern Districts in New Zealand where he guided the side to the State Championship. This success at Northern Districts led to Andy succeeding John Bracewell as New Zealand national coach in 2008.
“I look back on my time in New Zealand with very fond memories. I thoroughly enjoyed living there, I enjoyed the culture and the cricket was excellent. First class cricket in New Zealand is competitive and the Northern Districts had a great bunch of lads. It was probably one of my favourite appointments.”
“During my time in charge of New Zealand there were issues, but those issues were there when I went on board. And who would turn down an opportunity to coach an international team? I was fortunate to be in charge for two Test series against the West Indies and India and we went to the T20 World Cup. I look back at that time as a magnificent learning curve for me as a coach. We had some very talented players who had some strong cricketing ideas, but as always you look back and review the work you did and it was a great learning curve.”
In 2014, Andy was appointed batting coach for the Afghanistan national cricket team with the goal of preparing them for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Just weeks into role however, Andy was promoted to head coach to replace Kabir Khan, who had stood down from the position. Full respect to Andy for taking on the challenge of coaching a country who was in the middle of a well-publicised international conflict. Particularly as the foreign office advice was to avoid all but essential travel to the country.
“SWD Cricket really excites me – I travelled all around the world but there is a unique cricket atmosphere with a good crop of young and experienced talent in the province”, he said. “I am looking forward to a very successful innings with SWD Cricket”, Moles said.