Another sporting Andy?
That’s right. England’s team director will be thrust once again into the limelight when the Ashes begin in Nottingham today, but he has always been happy to leave the limelight to others.
A sensitive plant, this Flower? He’s had a tricky time at the helm of English cricket despite his team’s huge success. Arguably his best but most difficult player, the South African-born Kevin Pietersen, was exposed trashing the team in texts to England’s arch rivals, the South Africans, last summer. According to reports, Flower became cagier after a protracted battle for control of the team with the “egotistical” Pietersen. That was after he revived England’s fortunes, taking over soon after Freddie Flintoff’s infamous “pedalo” incident... Flower’s England team are forged in his image: sober, hard-working and united. But Pietersen is back for the Ashes so tempers could flare again.
Sounds as though he doesn’t know how to have fun...
Well, his charges describe the 45-year-old as more likely to go to the gym than have a pint, but perhaps that’s down to his career as a player. While batting for Zimbabwe in the 2003 World Cup, Flower launched one of the most courageous protests in cricketing history. Defying the media blackout imposed by President Robert Mugabe, he and the country’s first black player, Henry Olonga, issued a statement highlighting the “death of democracy” in their country. Donning black arm-bands in mourning, the pair embraced exile and deportation. Flower, who was 34 at the time, quit international cricket and signed a contract to play for Essex.
Was it worth it?
He remains adamant that the move was “a reminder of what was happening in that country at that time and some of the people who went through agony and lost their lives”.