ECB ponders resting Flower for ODIs
Andy Flower, the England team director, could miss the ODI leg of England's tour of India in January as the ECB looks to ease his workload.
Ashley Giles, Warwickshire's director of cricket who is currently in India as England's selector on tour, is in contention to deputise for Flower along with his long-regarded natural heir, England assistant coach Richard Halsall.
Flower's relentless schedule has been a concern to the ECB for some time. Few players are required for all three formats of the game but Flower is intimately involved in the planning, selection and management of the ODI, Test and T20 teams. While individual players have enjoyed rest periods, Flower has been granted only an occasional, brief absence. It is understood there is a particular concern that the Kevin Pietersen saga left Flower drained.
The ECB has, therefore, urged Flower to take a break. It believes that investing in a period of rest will help retain Flower's services for several more years and ensure he remains enthused and motivated.
Halsall has deputised for Flower in the past. He stood in for two days of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane in November 2010 when Flower required surgery to remove a melanoma from below his right eye and also when Flower was given a break for the ODI in Dublin in August 2011.
But it is understood that Giles is seen as a more suitable long-term substitute. Giles, a former England player and current national selector, recently led Warwickshire to the County Championship title and is emerging as the obvious natural successor to Flower. There could be an element of succession planning in his temporary appointment.
No final decision has been made and other options are being considered. Flower could also skip the ODI or the Test section of the New Zealand tour in February. But, with the next World Cup to be played in New Zealand and Australia in 2015, Flower will be reluctant to miss an opportunity to see players in those conditions.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo