Bob Woolmer: "naturally drawn to the limelight" John Inverarity: "happy to remain in the background
With the appointment of Peter Moores to the England Academy coach's position, my thoughts turned to the various coaches and coaching styles I've experienced over the years.
Here at Warwickshire, there has always been a premium put on the position, and a realisation that the coach has a pivotal role within the set-up.
This was amply demonstrated by the appointment of Bob Woolmer for his second spell with the club in 1999. Here was a man touted as the best coach in the world, having succeeded in his first spell at the club and then impressed as an international coach with South Africa. Bob enjoys taking centre stage, he's an ebullient character, very confident of his abilities and opinions.
Bob's second spell illustrated an important concept in that a coach will bring a particular set of skills but if they are not quite in tune with the requirements and expectations of the team success will be harder to come by. It doesn't mean that the coach or the team are in any way deficient, simply that, like any relationship, the two parties may not be ideally suited.
The present coach, John Inverarity, is a different character to Bob, and his relationship with Nick Knight, the captain, is the foundation on which our success last year was based. He is also one of the best batting coaches I have experienced. He seems to have a natural feel for one's game. His suggestions, often subtle, are more often than not spot on. John is happy to remain in the background; Bob was naturally drawn to the limelight.
Neither approach is right or wrong, it simply depends on the make-up of the players and the management team around him. You might say that a good coach should be able to change his persona according to the situation but over the course of a season, when you are often with the team 24/7, one's natural personality is difficult to repress, and few people would have the energy or desire to do so.
I've also met coaches who have brought particular qualities which I admired enormously. I was fortunate to work with Andy Flower while I was at Oxford University. His raw determination and will to succeed rubbed off on everyone within the team and he is one of those people who command a natural respect wherever they go.
One of the most important areas of coaching is loosely called man management. To me, it simply means getting on well with people and influencing them in a positive way. While I never played under him, Dermot Reeve seems to have this ability.
Trevor Penney once said to me that, whenever you went out to bat, Dermot made you feel like the best batsman in the world, such was the confidence he could instil in his players. Most people can have a similar effect on one or two people within a side but to have that ability over a wide range of people is unusual.
Former Warwickshire Academy director Roger Newman, a name few will have heard of, is the most able man-manager I have come across.
He has the ability to connect with people from all backgrounds and personalities and infuse a sense of confidence and well-being.
Knight always tries to take something positive from each coach and person that he works with. While it is unlikely that one person is going to fulfil all the requirements of each member of the team, a coach will always have a particular strength which the players can benefit from.
Of course, just occasionally, a player and coach have a magical relationship that generates something special. Shane Warne and Terry Jenner appear to have had that special bond.
Most players have a mentor of some description, a person whom they trust completely. Sometimes it's a family member, for example when Mark Butcher is struggling for form he turns to his father, but it can be almost anyone, from an old school coach to a sibling.
The coach is a hugely important position and the effect he has on the team is often discreet but vitally important. A quiet word here or a change in emphasis there can turn a situation around - sometimes for the better, occasionally for the worse. The relationship he has with the captain is crucial and the players buying into his philosophy is a vital first step towards success.
There has been a trend in recent years towards a modularisation of the role. Whereas once the coach was responsible for batting, bowling and fielding, fitness and administration, now an individual expert in each field is employed.
At Warwickshire we have a bowling coach, fitness trainer and physiotherapist, as well as the main coach, travelling with the team at all times, focusing on their personal strengths, adding to the develop of the team.
In addition we have people helping for short periods of the season, such as former Australian Test off-spinner Ashley Mallett who helps the spin bowlers. I count myself very lucky to have had the education I have had in my cricket career so far and look forward to more learning experiences in the future!