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Flower blooms in journey of T20 discovery

Back in training: Andy Flower is coaching the England Lions Getty Images

The last the world remembers of Andy Flower, he was watching his Rome burn around him. The England team he had transformed from 51 all out in the Caribbean into winners of three successive Ashes series - with a stint as World No.1, a World T20 title and a series win in India thrown in for good measure - were reduced to smouldering ruins by Australia.

In the eyes of many he had morphed into a cartoon villain, the demon headmaster whose strengths had slowly become his weaknesses under the strain of five relentless years in charge.

Where once he had been loyal, now he appeared obstinate, his determination had become belligerence and the respect he had once ruled with appeared to be approaching something closer to fear.

He has, of course, not disappeared off the face of the earth. Within two months of his resignation he was safely ensconced in a new role at the ECB, as 'technical director of elite coaching', but it was out of the limelight - even if taking on the role of England Lions head coach in mid-2014 pushed him a little closer to the glare of the media.

Now though he has a new challenge, as assistant coach of Peshawar Zalmi in the inaugural Pakistan Super League, a first dip of a toe into T20 franchise waters that feels slightly ironic given the friction they have caused the ECB in recent years.

The role, though, seems to be one Flower is relishing, a smile - a sight all too often absent in the latter stages of his England reign - is firmly back on his face. There was even the odd joke, admittedly unlikely to trouble the scorers at the Perrier Awards, but the sign of a man clearly enjoying himself more than the last time he appeared before the media hordes.

So what then of the differences between the international stage and his new job?

"The assistant coach's position is a nice job to have," he said, with a smile, after a fairly long pause for thought. "You don't have some of the other responsibilities that a head coach has and you can develop a different type of relationship with the players, so I've really loved my first few days here."

For Flower too this was an opportunity to shake off the image he had left behind, that of the stony faced captain joylessly steering his ship onto the rocks. When questioned whether his style was at odds with that of Peshawar's maverick captain Shahid Afridi, he offered a wry grin.

"I know him fairly well from playing against him a long time ago," the emphasis on long almost certainly not a deliberate joke about the rumours surrounding his skipper's age, but amusing nonetheless.

"Reputations can sometimes be misleading and the things you read in the press can sometimes be misleading. There's a nice easy atmosphere in the dressing room, so it's a really enjoyable position for me to hold, it's a nice coaching job," he said, adding "thank you" as an afterthought as if pleased to be able to express the sentiment.

This more relaxed edition of Flower seems to be a hit with his players as well. Darren Sammy, a man who could probably look laid-back and cheerful in a warzone - or in the WICB offices for that matter - has clearly benefitted from the input of his coach.

Flower dusted off his trusty old dog-thrower for pre-tournament practice to give the big Saint Lucian a session of throw-downs - interspersed, you imagine, with more than the odd piece of sage advice. Lessons Sammy appeared to have taken onboard three days later when his rearguard innings almost snuck a win after his team's fairly disastrous start.

"He's been great you know," said Sammy after that narrow defeat. "Obviously it's a big change between the roles he's played before but he's been fantastic. He has a good cricket brain and with the success he's had coaching, especially with England, taking them to No.1 he knows a lot about batting, especially in these type of conditions, so I think he's been good. It's a great mix, the guys have gelled really well together, coaches and players."

They say players learn new things playing franchise tournaments, perhaps the same is true for coaches too, with Sammy's natural ebullience rubbing off on Flower - it would certainly appear so given his new-found penchant for smiling.

There has also been a reminder too of the man of real moral character, marked out, on this day 13 years ago, by his black armband protest with Henry Olonga in Zimbabwe, as he deliberately took the time to acknowledge the work his franchise had done in bringing 150 students over from the Army Public School in Peshawar - scene of a horrific terrorist attack in 2014.

"It is nice being involved in a franchise and an owner that have included a cause greater than just winning a tournament."

This, then, appears to be Flower unchained, a man unburdened from the need to win at all costs and the never-ending grind of the international calendar, a man happy it seems to be slowly painting a new picture of himself.