Flower to groom cricket's leaders
Andy Flower will remain part of England's coaching set-up after being appointed as technical director of elite coaching by the ECB with an accent on developing leadership skills and exploring technical innovation in coaching.
Flower stood down as England's team director after the whitewash in the Ashes series after discussions with the ECB's new MD of England cricket, Paul Downton, admitting that he did not feel the system of dual coaches for the Test and one-day formats was working.
From the outset, the ECB emphased that it was keen to retain his influence at a high level and negotiations over the scope of his new role have now been satisfactorily concluded. He will be based at the National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough.
The role is slightly more expansive than had initially been floated, if unofficially, with Flower mentoring England's leading coaches as well as creating a "leadership programme" designed to educate young England players about the qualities they need to undertake such a role.
There is a belief within the ECB, and also strongly held by Flower, that UK society does not automatically equip talented young people with necessary leadership skills. Flower is adamant that success at international level is dependent not just on ability but character and that England would benefit by both these aspects being consistently developed in young professionals throughout the county system.
Flower expressed delight at what he termed "a great opportunity". He said: "I am particularly excited about the chance to build and mould a leadership course which is not simply about captaincy but much more. This role offers me a chance to make a real contribution to the ability and character of England players and coaches in the years to come."
Downton also confirmed that Flower's responsibilities would also extend into researching best practice and innovation in coaching practice and technology throughout the ECB coaching set-up, an aspect of his role as team director in which he was particularly interested. If he comes into contact with county coaches and encourages consistent and ambitious standards of excellence across the 18 first-class counties, the ECB will judge the investment in his new role worthwhile.
"The role will also involve researching the World's Best Practice in Coaching and Performance, driving and implementing innovation in Coaching Practice and Technology, with and through the Fellowship of Elite Coaches and the National Cricket Performance Centre as well as recommending developments within ECB Coach Education and CPD Programmes," Downton said.
That presumably would leave the new England team director more time to remain at the coal face, committing his energies to specific tours, player relationships and assessments, motivation, and tactical planning. That has already been signalled by the ECB's decision to advertise for a head coach rather than a team director.
Downton said: "The ECB is delighted that we are able to retain a man of Andy Flower's experience and quality. His record over the last five years speaks for itself and the ECB and Andy are excited about the future.
"Not only will Andy work with both players and coaches but he will also look to enhance the relationship between the county coaches and the England set up. He will also work with Level 3 and 4 coaches in the ECB coaching structures.
"Andy will also build on the highly successful ECB Coach and Talent Development Programmes which have seen players such as Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, to name a few, graduate to England senior teams as well as work with a number of coaches from first-class counties who have been involved with the England Lions.
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo