Flower tight-lipped over his future
Andy Flower has declined to deny suggestions that he is considering stepping down from his day-to-day coaching position with the England Test team.
Flower, responding to a story first published by ESPNcricinfo on August 22, insisted he was "not thinking about" the vacancy created by Hugh Morris' decision to move on from his role as managing director of England cricket, but would not give any guarantees over his long-term future.
Flower, who has a young family and has been in the England job since early 2009, scaled back his workload at the end of 2012 in a bid to improve his work-life balance. While he remains team director in all formats, the day-to-day coaching of the limited overs team passed to Ashley Giles. It is believed a similar arrangement is under consideration for the Test team, with Flower not currently committing himself beyond the end of the tour to Australia in January.
"I've always said you can't look too far ahead," Flower said. "You never know what's just round the corner.
"Would I fancy Hugh's job? I'm not even thinking about that."
England's relentless schedule has increased the risk of burnout to players and coaches for some time. But while the next few months are as hectic as normal, the end of 2014 offers some respite. England play only one overseas Test next year, in Sydney at the start of January, with the focus later in the year moving to ODI cricket ahead of the World Cup in February and March 2015. Such factors could persuade Flower to remain in position for a while longer.
"The reason [in stepping back] was to get a better work-life balance. Being away from home for 250 days a year didn't allow that. And we were also looking at maximising the use of our resources, in this instance our coaching resources. The structure is still bedding down, but having two coaches dovetailing may well be the best use of the ECB's resources.
"I do take the responsibility that the ECB have given me very seriously," Flower said. "I'm supposed to make a difference to English cricket in a positive way and I take that responsibility very seriously. I'll continue to do that.
"I don't have a fixed term contract. I'm very happy with the balance and I'm still enjoying the job. Very much so.
"More importantly this series has worked pretty well: we won 3-0. That's the important thing.
"Next year our only away Test is in Sydney. There will be a priority switch to the 2015 World Cup at some stage. It's too far away to think if I will be there. I don't think I'll be under-employed. There's always plenty to do. I've always said you can't look too far ahead."
If Flower does apply for Morris' job, it appears he will have the support of his predecessor. Morris, who suggested there will be "an open recruitment" process to fill his role, was effusive in his praise of Flower.
"I think whatever role Andy wants to do in the future he will do outstandingly well," Morris said. "He is somebody who I've always admired before he came into the ECB as a player as a person. He has done an outstanding job in his current role. Whatever he wants to put his mind to do in the future, he will do well."
But Morris was also full of praise for Andrew Strauss. While he only retired as a player 12-months ago, Strauss has spent part of this year shadowing Morris in his role and learning some of the skills required for a job in administration.
"Similar to Andy, Strauss is an incredibly capable bloke," Morris said. "He said to me a while ago that when he finished playing he wanted to dip his toe in the water, try different things, see what he enjoyed doing, and then make some decisions. So he is, again, an outstanding man, and whatever he wants to do he will do incredibly well.
"I think there will be a lot of people who will fancy a crack at the job. And quite rightly. It is a fantastic job. I have been really lucky to have done it, and done it for as long as I have done. It is a really great department full of really good people. I think we have got some systems in place now for talented kids at the age of 16 all the way through to Cooky, so hopefully they will inherit something that is a very professional system with a lot of good people in it."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo