The Ashes 2013-14 December 30, 2013

Flower has desire to lead rebuilding


Andy Flower admitted it feels like the end of an era for his England Test team but does not believe the changing of the guard among the players has to be replicated in the captaincy or coaching staff and has stated his desire to lead the rebuilding.

England are 4-0 down in the series and facing a whitewash in Sydney after a chastening defeat in Melbourne from a position of great strength.

Flower accepted that lessons could be learned from the tour but maintained the right management team were in place to lead England into the future and pointed to the side's success in recent years as proof of their effectiveness.

"Some things have to change because I do think this is the ending of a certain era for this team," Flower said. "After Sydney it will be the start of some fresh cycle in some way.

"This group of players have had some really good times. But we have seen Jonathan Trott disappear at the start of the tour and we have seen Graeme Swann disappear after three Tests. Those have been two absolute stalwarts for us. Trott has been as solid as anyone can be at number three and Swann has provided an outstanding career over six years.

"Hopefully Trott comes back at some stage, but with the passing of those two stalwarts and some of the results we have got on this tour I think it is fair to say that post-Sydney the England management should view this as starting afresh."

Whatever changes occur, Flower remains keen to be at the heart of it. While he will meet Paul Downton, the new managing director of England cricket, in Sydney in the next few days to discuss the future and accepts his style may have to evolve, he insists he retains the appetite to do so.

"I'd like to carry on," he said. "It would be a really exciting challenge for me. I would have the appetite to do that. I still have confidence in my ability to lead this group in the right direction.

"We ask our players to constantly look to improve and evolve and certainly I ask our coaching team to do so and when asking those questions of others I should absolutely be doing that myself."

Flower has always studied other leading coaches within sport and is now delving into their knowledge more than ever as he considers whether he can rebuild England's Test fortunes after such a dramatic slump.

"I've had some very interesting discussions with other international or successful franchise or club coaches. They're fascinating people to listen to and they all go through similar experiences. Should I be changing some of our coaching methods?

"Well, we're always looking to do things at an optimum level for the good of the individual players and the side. I'll continue to do that. I've given a lot of thought to what's happened on this tour but perhaps some time away at the end of this series would be the best time to evaluate that kind of thing."

Flower was particularly supportive of Alastair Cook and his coaching staff. As well as providing a reminder of Cook's excellent record up until this tour - he was unbeaten in his first five series at the helm - he also suggested he was still learning his trade as captain.

"Cook is an excellent young man and he's also a young captain," Flower said. "He is still learning about captaincy and he's done a good job so far. This is his sixth series and this is his first loss as captain. We've all got a lot to learn from it."

From the backroom team, the roles of Graham Gooch and David Saker and now under scrutiny although since Flower was made full-time director in early 2009, following the series loss to West Indies, England have only lost three Test series.

"I'm very confident in our support staff. I am sure they are just as motivated as I am. I think they are all keen to carry on. They've done an excellent job over the years and I think it would be careless in a way to have a knee-jerk reaction to this Test series loss.

"Over the last four-and-a-half years that this is our third Test series loss, so I think people should remember that."

Flower dismissed the suggestion that his intense leadership style had contributed to England's lacklustre display. Indeed, he insisted that, if anything, he should bring more intensity to the role.

"I think it is 180 degrees inaccurate," he said. "If anything I have relaxed a little in certain ways. If anything, I could bring more intensity and a closer control on certain things."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ivan on January 4, 2014, 7:43 GMT

    well everyone seems to blame cook but its a team effort and most of them haven't played well playing the same shots all the time I think there should be a change in the team bring in a lot of new young guys its worth a go. Cook should remain as captian but players like pryor and pieterson and bell and carberry need to be dropped and give guys like root balance stokes bairstow and borthwick all good players put them in the deep end get them to play and play and play they will do well

  • Amit on January 2, 2014, 16:26 GMT

    Perhaps not the best column to write this under but... IT would be really interesting to see how two different teams undergo a "rebuilding" phase at the same time and if they then emerge as champions. Australia are winning but still haven't settled their team yet. If it was a different opposition, those fires may not burn as intense. India is rebuilding and for once have more than one capable quick bowler in the list. England will have their chance at it soon. South africa might suddenly arrive there if Smith quits and with Kallis now gone.

    It may be best for cricket if the sides remain closely matched. If a game didn't cost as much to organise, Ireland and Afghanistan would cause an upset quite a few times and manage to kick Bangladesh of to the bottom tiers.

  • Mark on January 1, 2014, 14:55 GMT

    Some interesting ideas here. Taking a more long term view about some kind of hard hitting middle order replacement for KP needs to be addressed. Here is where I believe Notts can help both themselves and the national side. It has become apparent that Hales probably doesn't quite suit opening in first class cricket. To that end I would like to see him bat four in the championship. Also it might do Taylor some good to bat number three.

  • Martin on January 1, 2014, 11:48 GMT

    @southstoke49 I don't agree that Flowers achievement looks good "because it occurred at a time when Australia & India were both rebuilding". England whitewashed India when they were #1 and had been for some time. They were not rebuilding. Similarly when England beat Australia in Australia in 2010/11 they were not rebuilding either - many of the same players from that 2010/11 series are still there now; Johnson, Harris, Siddle, Clarke, Haddin, Watson, most Aussies I know will tell you that this current Aus side is rebuilding at this time. I have often argued with people here about the use of the term "rebuilding". It doesn't mean anything. All teams are rebuilding at all times. However, I certainly agree with you regarding the batting problems that became apparent against Pakistan; at the time I thought that was a blip - turns out it was not. Gooch was brought in to fix it - but it has got worse, much worse; thrashed @home by SA, weak in NZ, this Ashes, under his coaching. He has to go.

  • Neil on January 1, 2014, 6:26 GMT


    Good post. Agree Carberry is not test standard, I would give Compton another go hoping he can anchor whilst Cook plays with freedom. . Bell should bat first down - remember the auld addage of "play your best batsman at 3"? KP at 4, with Root, Ballance or Morgan bolstering the middle order - a combo that could be exciting. I would add that Root is neither ready for opener nor 3, he needs to be back at 5 or 6.

    Bowling wise, time's up for Bresnan. Give Borthwick a run out, as surely we can't play the likes of Batty or Tredwell. I would rather no frontline tweeter than these journeymen.

    Only other comment is Flower must go. The results in all formats over last 2 years speak volumes. Maybe this can release the shackles on Cook's captaincy. I wonder just how much of a negative influence Flower has been

  • John on January 1, 2014, 5:06 GMT

    @64blip: A year ago I'd have agreed with you about Finn and in the future maybe he'll go back to being a strike bowler. At the moment he's bowling tentatively, searching for his run up and for rhythm in his delivery stride and only occasionally reaching 90moh.

    He needs to play a season of first-class cricket in which he reverts to being a strike bowler and goes all out. At county level he can do that and get his mojo back. At test level his weaknesses are magnified and his confidence is way down.

    I hope he'll come back strong, but at present he's not the bowler England needs. I'd give Jordan a run, he's quick and aggressive and he can bat a bit, too. I'd put him in for Bresnan- having Stokes as 4th seamer gives England that luxury.

    @Nutcutlet: I don't think Root has gone backwards- he's going through a learning process. In fact, until he was run out in the last test he was batting fluently and well. I'd put him back at #1 and tell him to play a little more like that every innings.

  • ian on December 31, 2013, 21:28 GMT

    @ 5wombats(December 31, 2013, 18:25 GMT): so good to see you here again! Can't help but think that you've hit the nail on the head. Heads must roll, indeed. Who was it that pushed for the three lanky 'fast' bowlers at the selection stage? That was a misjudgement of monumantal proportions. Why has Finn (90 wks; 23 Tests) been un-selectable? Why wasn't Onions taken along? Why was Trott's on-going psychological state ignored? Who thought that Bairstow was a genuine reserve w/k? Why has England played such joyless cricket? Why has the batting failed so miserably? Everyone is so protective of Gooch. Why? The batting has looked brittle for a while - sometimes clueless - & only Bell held things together last summer. IB holds his hand up - protects Flower. So Does Strauss. Flower says it's his fault. With everyone in self-accusatory mode, we are left scratching our heads. Everyone wants to take the rap. Very noble. But the axe must fall and, I suspect, more than once. Happy New Year, 5W & all!

  • Keith on December 31, 2013, 19:33 GMT

    To be bowled so comprehensively twice in the same series, albeit by great deliveries, is pretty unusual for Cook - unprecedented. An indication that his head is well and truly messed up. Call it the "system" if you like - and I agree that there should be wholesale systemic changes from the top down - but for my money Cook hasn't shown the ability to make good on field captaincy decisions, whether the pressure is on or not, and secondly, his batting would benefit from being released from the captaincy. A smattering of gritty half centuries here and there is what really hurts and is not the Cook we all want to see.

  • Martin on December 31, 2013, 19:01 GMT

    While I think Flower has done quite a good job it may be time to look at someone else, preferably from outside. While he was an undoubted improvement on Moores and did get us to no.1 in the 3 formats, in regards to tests I think the achievement looked better than it was. This is because it occurred at a time when Australia & India were both rebuilding & the more peripheral countries such as the West Indies were in a state of turmoil. Also despite success at home, generally against weaker opposition, and the occasional success abroad, mainly due to the strength of our spin bowling we have never solved the batting problems that became apparent against Pakistan after the last Ashes success. This should have been addressed 2-3 years ago. If he does wish to carry on Flower must present a plan to integrate new players, a more positive style, a better selection process & to address issues a lot quicker.

  • Martin on December 31, 2013, 18:25 GMT

    @64blip. Hello. We've seen before the consequences when people are rock solid certain that their methods are "right". They are not equipped to see that they are in fact WRONG. Flower MAY be one of these. Now, Flower has brought this team from despair (defeat in the West Indies) to triumph (3 Ashes victories, the historic series win in India). You could take the view that Flower's methods have brought England to being a decent team. However, there are elephants in the room; this desperate Ashes is NOT a "blip": clueless batting & defeat in the UAE, beaten at home by SA, failure to win in New Zealand, listless but victorious last summer V Aus. Something is desperately wrong when TWO top performers walk out of a team. Batting is the main problem. Gooch must go - that is a fixed and given; the batting is abject now and he has to pay. That's the minimum. Then the bowlers... taking Rankin/Tremlett/Finn and then they don't play!? What the hell is that all about!? Heads must roll.

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