England news January 31, 2014

Flower's England tenure over


Andy Flower, one of the most successful coaches in England's history, is to leave his position as team director after five years in the job. England suffered a 5-0 whitewashing in Australia earlier this month, losing the Ashes in humiliating fashion, and Flower has now become the chief casualty.

The ECB, in a formal announcement released several hours after the story first broke in the Telegraph, said that Flower had informed the board of his desire to stand down. He will stay on as a selector in the short term and consider taking up an alternative role, most likely at the National Performance Centre in Loughborough, with the ECB keen to retain his services.

Having said in the aftermath of the Test series that he wanted to continue in the role and oversee England's rebuilding, Flower has seemingly given in to a change of heart. In confirming his departure, Flower said he had reached the conclusion that the team director should have responsibility across all formats, a challenge he felt was beyond him.

Paul Downton, England's new managing director, said he was "very disappointed" by Flower's decision. As the defeats in Australia piled up, Flower had received emphatic expressions of support from both the ECB chairman, Giles Clarke, who pronounced that he would be in charge beyond the 2015 World Cup, and chief executive, David Collier, who insisted that England needed stability.

Suggestions that Flower had been forced to stand down were denied by the ECB. Downton, who officially begins in the job on February 1, has been conducting a review of England's disastrous tour, which got worse with defeat in the T20 series, and met with Flower on Thursday.

Downton said: "We respect his decision and the reasons for it but we are keen to keep Andy's experience and outstanding knowledge within the ECB. We are at advanced stages of negotiating a role for Andy within the ECB structure which will best utilise his undoubted skills."

Flower, who took over in 2009, deserves to be recognised as one of England's most successful coaches, even if events in Australia suggested that his natural shelf life was coming to an end. He oversaw England's rise to the No. 1 ranking in all three formats, winning three consecutive Ashes series and the World Twenty20 during his time in charge.

The limited-overs coach, Ashley Giles, is currently in charge of the team and England do not play a Test series until June. The ECB will advertise the job externally but Giles would likely be a frontrunner and he is scheduled to give a press conference on Saturday morning, Australia time. If another candidate were to be appointed, a reunification of the Test and limited-overs coaching roles would threaten Giles' current position.

Reports of a rift with Kevin Pietersen - Flower denied having made an ultimatum about Pietersen's involvement in the team but pointedly did not give the player his backing - had clouded the end of a stormy tour of Australia, during which England's senior players collectively failed to live up to their billing. After the defeat in Melbourne, ESPNcricinfo's George Dobell wrote that Flower's time was up and that it was "highly likely that, sometime over the next few days or weeks... Flower will take the decision to resign".

However, Collier insisted in January, ahead of the fifth Test, that Flower retained the backing of the ECB until 2015.

Flower returned to England after the Ashes and discussions about the way forward with Downton and Alastair Cook, the Test and one-day captain, had been expected to stretch well into February. Instead, Downton will begin the process of identifying Flower's successor.

Should Flower move to the national academy, he would remain in a senior position and exert considerable influence over England's future success. He relinquished control of England's limited-overs teams at the start of 2013, due to the considerable demands of touring, and a full-time role in the UK would enable Flower to spend more time with his young family.

As in 2006-07, a 5-0 Test defeat in Australia has precipitated a change in head coach. Flower, like Duncan Fletcher before him, ends on the lowest of notes but his reign will be remembered as a period of great success. Taking over from Peter Moores, after a damaging internal dispute that also cost Pietersen the captaincy, Flower improved England's fortunes in all three formats.

Flower's England began by winning the 2009 Ashes, then secured a first global limited-overs trophy in the Caribbean, at the 2010 World T20. An historic 3-1 win in Australia - England's first Ashes triumph away from home in 24 years - followed, as Flower and the captain, Andrew Strauss, developed a highly efficient, widely admired partnership. The 4-0 whitewashing of India at home in 2011 took England to No. 1 in the Test rankings, though the next two years produced more fitful success as a slow decay set in.

Defeat against South Africa at home presaged the loss of the top ranking and Strauss' retirement but, in Cook's first series as permanent Test captain, England won in India for the first time since 1984-85. A 3-0 victory over Australia last summer gave England their third consecutive Ashes, a feat not achieved in more than 30 years, but they held the urn for only a few months longer, eviscerated by Australia on a debilitating tour.

Flower's intense, meticulous nature was seen as a strength that became a weakness as England were accused of being increasingly data driven; questions were also asked about the team's relish for the challenge and continued ability to think on their feet.

England's schedule over the next few months consists of short-form cricket, firstly in the West Indies and then at the World T20 in Bangladesh, before Test series against Sri Lanka and India. With changes expected in the playing staff - three debutants were fielded in Sydney - these will be interesting times.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • H on February 2, 2014, 12:17 GMT

    Just seen Gillespie's ruled himself out. There goes that then.

    So we're left with either Giles (looking worryingly likely) or throwing a pile of cash at Gary Kirsten until he can't say no. Despite the money the ECB has, I doubt he's going to leave South Africa when they've got a really juicy series against Australia coming up. He is South African, after all, and if he were to leave now there'd be a really good chance the Aussies might steamroller them. As it is I reckon that'll be an incredibly close series although I do think the Saffers should have enough to come out on top (mainly in the batting department; the two bowling attacks are very close in quality, imho).

  • H on February 2, 2014, 9:14 GMT


    As for Flower, I'd like to see him in a non-Coaching role, some sort of executive role is a good shout. He's clearly a smart guy who can offer some insight to the ECB, but I think his style of Coaching is ill-suited to the current team. He's an excellent Coach for a bunch of top quality cricketers at the peak of their powers. Which he had for much of his reign. But what we've got now is nothing of the sort, and I'm not sure his approach will work with this group of players.

    The "senior" players are declining. And the young players coming through have regressed and gone backwards the longer they've been under this Coaching setup. If Stokes is the one bright spark of this series I'm glad this coaching setup won't get the chance to ruin him too.

    We need a fresh start. I still think Gillespie's the man for the job but I suspect we'll be stuck with Giles. Hopefully he does a better job with Tests than he's done with one dayers.

  • H on February 2, 2014, 8:55 GMT

    @JG2704 on (February 1, 2014, 19:52 GMT)

    UAE was brushed under the carpet despite forming part of what we can now see is a clear pattern. In 2005 we were excellent against a genuinely great Australian side but immediately afterwards got pummelled by (funnily enough) Pakistan, and then had the 5-0 in Australia.

    In 2011 we annihilated India. That's the last time I think we truly performed as a unit. The innings and 242 run victory at Edgbaston was as comprehensive a victory as I've ever seen, even in light of this dreadful Ashes tour. There was a legitimate reason to believe we were the best side in the world; we were playing like it.

    Then came the UAE. Whitewashed. Sri Lanka was another example of our problem with the first Test on tour, and had it been a 3 match series I suspect we'd have won it.

    South Africa was a perfect example of England's lack of a plan B against a top class batting unit.

    It wasn't hard to see what went wrong in each series and yet nothing changed.


  • John on February 1, 2014, 19:52 GMT

    @HZO - Indeed the 3 sub par performances of 2012 in UAE and SL and at home vs SA were all under Strauss's captaincy. I really believe both guys were more on field supervisors for Flower. I like Flower alot as a bloke but if he is working for the ECB it needs to be well away from the team and manager iteslf. The whole thing needs freshening up - new ideas,no baggage etc

  • H on February 1, 2014, 14:13 GMT

    @JG2704 on (February 1, 2014, 10:25 GMT) I wouldn't say the door should revolve more,but I do think it shouldn't be shut either. I think that's the real problem.

    Certain players are immune from being dropped, while other players have almost no chance of being selected no matter how well they do in domestic cricket (Nick Compton, Graham Onions etc). It's not that we need to drop all the players or make wholesale changes every match, but the threat of losing your place has to be there to keep players on their toes (and it's not).

    More importantly, we've made absolutely no effort to blood players until we've had to. It's far easier for a new player to come into a winning side than a losing one yet how often when we were doing well did we make an effort to bring in youngsters?

    I also agree that it's too simplistic to blame Cook's captaincy. The signs were there under Strauss, we just buried our heads in the sand. We papered over the cracks but eventually we ran out of paper.

  • ZCF on February 1, 2014, 12:53 GMT

    Is that the same @Brian Murphy, former Zimbabwe reserve cricketer and accidental captain? Mediocre English players? If you're the same Brian Murphy, then you weren't of a leggie yourself you know. Worse than mediocre actually. This isn't the English football team you know - so Cook, Broad, Jimmy, Swann&Bell mediocre? Any County/Club side turn you down? At least we agree on one thing gutter press. But it does serve its purpose now and then doesn't it. Feeds all you guys out there all the drivel about us out here in Africa.

  • front on February 1, 2014, 11:30 GMT

    As an England fan, I feel the humiliation meted out by Australia during this tour, will be complete if they appoint an Australian to the position of coach of the English cricket team. I know fans and the media crowed about our brief time in the sun, but now winter is here, this is a good hard reality check to the hubris of fans and the english media pack.

  • Dummy4 on February 1, 2014, 11:05 GMT

    Garry Kirsten. In my vision, please do not entertain any "friendly" invites from ECB at this stage. I do not mean that England have run short of Heroes of your calibre. Enjoy the best weather, home love and Boerewors braais "my broer". I just have a feeling that you could be approached. Undoubtedly they would prefer that you raise them above us as you did miracles before, making India and South Africa alike to be No.1. You fought against your beloved Country and celebrated their defeat before when India won. Don't do it again you naughty boy! Highly motivated and formidable Aussies are knocking at our doors coming to play us this February 2014 month and trying to snatch our aspired and honoured No.1 test match ranking in the whole big World and to make us another whitewashed England at home!Do not allow that boy. Leave with this as your daily homework preparation until we thoroughly punish Aussies also as an avenge for England.

  • Richard on February 1, 2014, 11:05 GMT

    Most sports and none more so than cricket are primarily played with instinct, desire and will to win - not by metrics and methodologies.

    Owing to some notable successes for the current group of players, it seems to me that the England management headed by Flower had fallen victim to the classic leadership self-delusion that the success was all down to their own work, whether on the tactical side, the coaching side or the selection side, and therefore the recipe for further success was more and more management intervention.

    This appears to have gradually fossilised the England team into a numbed and supine state, and now the Aussies have come along and shattered the fossil beast.

    There is a place for calm and methodical cricket management but that is more in the organisational aspects of tours and facilities rather than the playing side.

  • Dummy4 on February 1, 2014, 10:58 GMT

    Please not long Tom Moody. I remember him taking over at Worcestershire in the early 2000's and presiding over a disastrous period where selections were bizarre, no new players came through, they were relegated to div 2 and never got past the group stage in the knock out cups...then he left.... Somehow being talked of a success. His reputation seems to be excellent despite his results both nationally and internationally being really poor. Seems people just like the bloke and that's not a reason to hire him.