England in India 2012-13 January 1, 2013

England enter new job-share era

England's one-day series in India will mark the start of a new coaching era with the job split between Andy Flower and Ashley Giles

A brave new world is upon us. Andy Flower is staying at home, content that his life is back in balance and that professionally his commitment remains unwavering, and Ashley Giles, suitcase packed and England blazer donned once more, is heading to India as coach of the limited-overs sides. It is no exaggeration to suggest that the rest of the cricket world will be intrigued to see how it all works out.

Under what is surely English sport's most ambitious job share, Flower remains team director with day-to-day responsibility for Test cricket and he will also oversee Giles, who will retain his role as an England selector and take over direct responsibility for the coaching of the 50-over and Twenty20 sides.

Job sharing is not easy. It demands that a selfless commitment to the greater good is always paramount, that systems of management are in place and understood to ensure smooth transitions, that trust between those involved is absolute, egos never destructive and frustrations patiently borne. Achieve that and you may benefit from additional energy and ideas. Without such qualities, a certain amount of finger pointing would be inevitable.

England are fortunate that in Flower and Giles they have two compatible coaches with a mutual respect who do not yearn for absolute power but who have always preached the benefits of a strong collective. They are fortunate, too, that they are job sharing in a set-up not hostile to the notion, a structure hailed by Giles when taking the job as "the most professional sporting outfit in the world."

Giles faces a tough India baptism, designed to bring one or two more "butterfly moments" that he has conceded will be inevitable. Resting players so that they can cope physically and emotionally with the unremitting schedule is now firmly established as England's policy - and that means removing them from the two limited-overs formats whenever possible and only weakening a Test XI when unavoidable. Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Jonathan Trott and, latterly, Jonny Bairstow, whose compassionate leave has been extended for personal reasons, will all be missing in India. Then, in New Zealand, Kevin Pietersen will be absent.

As part of a selection panel that sanctioned such a policy, and which recognises its long-term benefits, Giles is not about to protest about the hand that he has been dealt, but he faces a formidable challenge as he seeks to follow up England's Test series victory in India with success in the shorter formats.

Giles was never a great player, but he has always been a great team man and a shrewd thinker. The team ethic fostered by him at Warwickshire has played a central part in their success and suggests that he and Flower should dovetail well together. As the most obvious example, Trott's progression from self-absorbed county professional to England batsman owed much to Giles' warning that he must learn to put team achievement first.

"Gilo told me I'd never play for England the way I was," Trott recalled last year. "My mood was determined by how I performed not by the team's success. If I didn't do well, it didn't matter what happened to the rest of the side."

Flower has been slightly coy about presenting the shared role as a lifestyle change. It also offers him the chance to do more strategic planning ahead of Test series, such as the back-to-back Ashes series which will occupy England's thoughts later this year. That the adjustment will have benefits is assured because Flower is nothing if not thorough when it comes to planning, and it promises to give him greater longevity in the job, but for all the business references we can anticipate about the need to retrain and upskill, this is a role change that had its germination in his personal needs.

Many will have welcomed in the New Year fortunate enough to possess a stressful job which provides them with endless satisfaction and yet unable to suppress the nagging thought that their life is somehow out of kilter, that however ambitious they are they were not put into the world to succeed at one aspect of their life to the detriment of their greater selves.

England are fortunate that in Flower and Giles they have two compatible coaches with a mutual respect who do not yearn for absolute power but who have always preached the benefits of a strong collective

For all that, job sharing has long been an emotive subject. Others will look on, convinced that such a daily obsession is an essential attribute for the most successful, that even to talk of family is weakness, that power sharing invites instability and should never be countenanced, and that such an arrangement can by its very nature only be temporary.

And where will it all end? It was perhaps no coincidence that immediately after Flower's new deal, England's bowling coach, David Saker, conceded that life on the road was so unrelenting that Giles' vacated Warwickshire post was briefly an attractive one - it was just the thought of turning away from two successive Ashes series that was too hard to bear.

Times have changed. Five years ago, England's resistance to the idea of a split captaincy persuaded them to make Pietersen captain in all three formats, a gamble which backfired spectacularly when Pietersen, imbued by an excessive sense of his own power, rebelled against the coach, Peter Moores, in a manner which caused both to lose their jobs.

England, shaken by the experience, had litle choice but to turn to the split-captaincy solution, even briefly adopting a triumvirate of leaders to respond to the different demands of the game's three formats with Andrew Strauss as the guiding hand in charge of the Test side, Alastair Cook as his loyal and capable young lieutenant long identified as his successor and cutting his teeth in the ODI format, and Stuart Broad to bring attacking, aggressive instincts to England's T20 cricket.

If the media imagined that tensions were inevitable, with the worth of the three captains constantly compared to the detriment of team spirit, it never happened that way. All three seemed comfortable with the arrangement and, if there were any difficulties, there were kept out of sight.

It was as if the three forms of cricket were now as accepted as distinctive with success in one form of the game not automatically seen as candidature for another. One-day cricket is so formulaic it does not present much of a CV for the Test job and, in any case, when Cook took over he seemed very much the Strauss disciple, right down to the cover sweeper. And perhaps the importance of the captain was not quite what it was. Many decisions now owed less to a captain's individual instincts than statistical data known by all.

It has not always been that way. When Nasser Hussain resigned as England's Test captain in 2003 it was with the growing recognition that Michael Vaughan's leadership stock was rising as captain of the one-day side. Hussain had railed at England to drag them back to respectability, but his job had been done and it was time for a captain of different style to continue the advance.

Flower can consider all of this with equanimity. He could hardly be in a more impregnable position. He has already coached England to a Twenty20 World Cup, victorious Ashes series home and away and a Test series victory in India. He has already built a successful relationship with Giles in his role as a selector. The ECB has also regarded him as continuing beyond the 2015 World Cup - just not quite in this manner.

What is certain is that England are in for an intriguing year.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • david on January 4, 2013, 23:33 GMT

    the guys a selector so i doubt the resting of players is alien to him.at the end of the day flowers although not directly involved with the odis and t20 teams he is still the guy who says who goes into squads when they are selected. the whole point of this is to lighten the workload of flowers.like most things england do the others follow, so expect similar options in other countries. we introduced the game along with other world games while others twiddle their fingers or make aussie rules their only claim to fame but only them play it lol

  • ian on January 4, 2013, 11:52 GMT

    This is the future! As long as the touring programme is as bogglingly complicated as UK train fares, workshare is the way to go. I don't envisage any difficulties in England's ground-breaking arrangement because both Andy Flower & Ashley Giles do one thing very well: communicate, esp. with each other, besides their players & the media. It is, however, wholly dependent on the characters involved & should not be used as an automatic template by other boards. Some countries do dysfunctional effortlessly, even with just one man in charge! Lastly, a few years ago I recall asking a head teacher whether one of her school's classes in which a 50-50 job-share was operating between friendly colleagues was doing well. She replied: 'Better than ever! Both come to the classroom fresh. I think we get 60% from each of them!'

  • John on January 3, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    @Clifford Adams on (January 03 2013, 18:59 PM GMT), I don't think that all that many people had an issue with KP complaining about the schedule. He wasn't the first and there was already a lot of talk in the media and among fans about the schedule being over-packed. What people had issue with is the fact that KP appeared to try to leverage the ECB into allowing him to break his contract, which required him to be available for both limited-overs formats or neither. It seemed that he was trying to call their bluff by retiring from all limited-overs cricket and then wanted back in when he realised that they weren't going to back down. Many like myself were sorry to see KP retire but were quite prepared to accept the decision if that was what he considered best for himself. The whole text message business is another matter altogether. That said, "civil disobedience" has often been a catalyst for positive change and may been again in this case.

  • John on January 3, 2013, 20:55 GMT

    @trav29 - Yeah I'm not sure how it will all pan out myself. I like the idea of fresh input/ideas etc but surely Flower will always have the final say on when players are rested

    @jmcilhinney - Yeah I'm sure such things were discussed but the reality might be quite different. I'm just trying to see things from Giles' point of view and wondering if they (the ODI side) go on a good run and then Flower wants a couple of key players rested. It actually contradicts what they are doing with the test side where they seem to want to keep the same side all the time no matter how certain players are performing. I'm just wondering if they couldn't rest some of these players for certain test matches/series to even it out?

  • John on January 3, 2013, 20:45 GMT

    @Hardy1 - I pasted the following from the internet "Compton moved to England while in his teens and was educated at Harrow School.[1]. Compton impressed with a hatful of centuries for the school playing as captain and was prolific during the 2000 season for Middlesex's Under-19 side" So basically he would have been 16/17 in 2000 and obviously younger before. Not sure exactly when he moved to England but I'd always class 18 as an adult age. My guess is that he's have been around 14/15 when he moved here which definitely isn't adult age. Please publish this time

  • Dummy4 on January 3, 2013, 18:59 GMT

    Are all these changes now effected because of KP having done the spade work. Was KP forced to pull a few tricks into opening the minds of the administrators of the game?. Or am I confused and have I it all wrong?

  • Sharon on January 3, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    So @RandyOZ - and the Australia coach Mickey Arthur... where is he from, actually? And given Australia "slide down the rankings" it is appropriate for you, as an Australian, to give us a description of that. So, how was that slide for you, @RandyOZ?

  • John on January 3, 2013, 14:46 GMT

    @JG2704 on (January 03 2013, 13:56 PM GMT), I don't think that there's any doubt that players will be rested more often from limited-overs series than Test series. I do wonder exactly how the decision is made on who to rest when though. If I had to guess I'd say that it was the selectors' decision and Giles is a selector. That said, I'm guessing that they would take Flower's advice unless they had a very good reason to do otherwise. You'd have to think that this sort of thing has been discussed before the appointment of Giles as coach was formalised. Even so, as times goes on, if Giles feels that he's not getting the results he could because he doesn't have the best available personnel, he may start to feel that a renegotiation is in order. Only time will tell. Let's not forget also that it is a stated priority for England to make the best possible showing at the WC in 2015, so we might see some ODI experimentation for a while before they settle on their best WC squad.

  • Martin on January 3, 2013, 14:31 GMT

    @ JG i made a similar comment recently about whether flower will be even more protective of players for the test team now that giles is in charge of the limited overs squads and whether there will be any issues over giles wanting his strongest team but flower not ok-ing it. not sure i like this dual coach situation as giles will inevitably want to be successful if he has ambitions of taking over from flower in the future but might feel he is being handicapped if he cant pick the teams he wants.

  • John on January 3, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    The more I think about it , the more it seems that England are treating the 50/20 over formats as secondary. There are positives in that Giles will not feel bound to pick test players for fear of offending these players if they are left out but in the main I feel he is very much up against it. For instance guys like KP,Jimmy,Swann will always be rested from the shorter formats. If you were a coach you would want Swann and KP in every side in every format. Obviously Flower will have the final say on resting players so Giles will always have the shorter straw re resting players decisions. I think we've already seen more key players rested for the recent T20s/ODIs - coincidence?